Annapolis, Md. (WJZ)– Maryland lawmakers took big action against animal abuse by signing four bills into law Thursday.

The four laws are a big victory for the Humane Society, ASPCA, and thousands of mistreated Maryland pets.

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Governor Larry Hogan signed four anti-animal cruelty bills into law.

With the stroke of a pen and a wag of a tail, Hogan pumped up financial support and standards for shelters and increased oversight on breeders.

“I think that the message of the whole day is that Maryland cares about animal welfare. And we are taking a strong stance for animal welfare in the state of Maryland, and obviously the legislature, General Assembly, and Governor Hogan agrees,” said Emily Hovermale of the Humane Society of United States.

The bill benefits dogs like Gem, who was rescued from a Wicomico County puppy mill just over a year ago and Mabel who was surrendered to the Anne Arundel County SPCA at 12 years old.

“Housing an animal obviously is going to be expensive. Especially when you have medical issues and issues with behavior,” said Lisa Gyory of the  Anne Arundel County SPCA.

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Under the four news laws:

• Dog breeder limits are lowered  from 15 females to 6.
• Shelters will be reimbursed for taking in dogs from cruelty cases.
• Some shelters will be subject to inspection and have higher care standards.
• Veterinarians are now required to report suspected abuse, something that until now was only optional.

“Unfortunately many people think that is already the law. And that you can believe that veterinarians are going to report suspected cruelty. Now they have to,” Hovermale said.

It’s a big victory for animal advocates and shelters. The laws put breeders and abusers on a shorter leash.

The reimbursement money for shelters will come from a special emergency fund used when animals are seized from cruelty cases.

All the new laws will go into effect October 1st.

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