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Pet Trusts Advance

Rosalind Helderman

A bill to allow Marylanders to create trusts for their pets passed the House of Delegates this morning and will now be considered by the senate. We wrote about this issue yesterday.

The bill passed by a vote of 105 to 28, but not before the House engaged in a little good-humored back and forth over the issue. Del. Charles E. Barkley (D-Montgomery) suggested there were issues that had not yet be considered. For instance, the bill stated that once established, the trust would in place for as long as an animal lives. But, he said, how to know if a pet has died?

"Is there a doggie death certificate?" he asked. "What if my pet parrot crackers flies away? Can I have her declared dead? Do I go to pet probate?"

As laughter grew, Barkley continued. "If I have a trust for an eel, does Aquaman have standing? Can the trustee be another animal? And, if so, must it be the same kind of animal?"

Then, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Judiciary Committee which reviewed the bill and is well-known for his general skepticism about such bills, rose to his feet.

"Believe me, I hesitated a little bit with this bill," he said dryly, to laughter. "But I became convinced it was in the interest of pets who don't have a voice in this House."

He went on to explain that 39 other states already allow their citizens to create trusts for their animals.

The debate then grew serious, as Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) rose. Apologizing for breaking up the House's levity, she explained she would vote against the measure. She noted gay and lesbian couples are denied some similar protections under state probate laws.

"I think the timing of this bill is really ill-conceived given that we're not giving some of these same protections to Maryland families in this state that we're willing to give to their pets," she said, to applause.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 26, 2009; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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This is silly. As I suggested the other day, how about only allowing people to keep chickens, pigs, and cows for pets. Then when the owner dies, the people left alive can eat the pet.

A win-win for everybody. Well, not the pet, but the owner is dead, so who will really care?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 26, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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