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The Rhode Island House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee is scheduled to consider more dog-related bills at its Wednesday, March 7 hearing.   One of these bills, House Bill 7609, may impact dog handlers.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages all concerned Rhode Island residents to contact the committee members and respectfully share their views.

House Bill 7609 – This bill would establish registration requirements of pet groomers and pet grooming facilities.  Additionally, the bill would:

  • Define “grooming” as any act of preparing, cleaning, trimming, stripping, coloring, or styling animal hair; bathing an animal; or nail trimming of an animal’s paws.
  • Define “pet groomer” as any individual who engages in any grooming activity involving a pet for financial remuneration.
  • Require annual registration of pet groomers and pet grooming facilities with a fee of $25.
  • Require pet groomers and pet groomer facilities to maintain a safety certification from the Rhode Island Professional Pet Groomers’ Association or from any organization approved by the state Director of Environmental Management to provide a safety certification based on standards approved by the Rhode Island Professional Pet Groomers’ Association.
  • Provide for punishments, including a fine of $500 for first violations and up to $1,000 fines for second or subsequent violations and loss of registrations.

The AKC is concerned that the current definitions of “grooming” and “pet groomer”, as currently worded in H.7609, will unintentionally apply to show dog handlers.  Because they operate in substantively different ways than traditional pet groomers, AKC encourages concerned Rhode Island residents to respectfully request that the definition of “pet groomer” in H.7609 be amended to ensure that professional show dog handlers are explicitly excluded from the definition.

House Bill 7612 – This bill would prohibit the misrepresentation of the status of a pet dog as a service dog to acquire any right or privilege afforded to disabled persons.  The Rhode Island Department of Health would be required to provide decals for posting by businesses notifying the public of this law, and would require the Department to provide informational pamphlets to businesses, upon request, providing permissible questions to determine the status of a dog.  This bill would also provide for a civil penalty of up to $500 and 30 hours of community service per violation.

Because H.7612 is consistent with AKC’s Board-approved Misuse of Service Dogs position statement, we support H.7612.

House Bill 7615 – This bill would protect homeless persons in possession of a service animal, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), from being denied access to any homeless shelter in violation of the ADA or the state or federal Fair Housing Practices Act.

The AKC supports H.7615.


Rhode Island residents are encouraged to contact the members of House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee and respectfully share their opinions of the above-listed bills.  Please feel free to use the talking points above.

Representative Joseph M. McNamara, Chair –

Representative Dennis M. Canario, First Vice-Chair –

Representative Mia A. Ackerman, Second Vice-Chair –

Representative Samuel A. Azzinaro –

Representative David A. Bennett –

Representative Julie A. Casimiro –

Representative Susan R. Donovan –

Representative Arthur Handy –

Representative Robert B. Lancia –

Representative Shelby Maldonado –

Representative Ramon A. Perez –

Representative Robert D. Phillips –

Representative Marcia R. Ranglin-Vassell –

Representative Sherry Roberts –

Representative Moira J. Walsh –

Committee Secretary Lisa Cataldi –

Rhode Island residents are also encouraged to attend the Wednesday, March 7, meeting of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee.  Committee meeting information may be viewed here.

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide updates on these bills as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC GR at