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RI Senate Committee to Consider Burdensome Confinement Laws TODAY (6/11)

(Monday, June 11, 2012)

Today, the Rhode Island Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee will consider two bills, SB 2035 and HB 7663, which will have a tremendous negative impact on responsible Rhode Island dog owners if either is enacted as currently written. The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly encourages all dog owners from the Ocean State to contact the committee members listed below and urge them to not move either bill forward without addressing the substantive concerns with both bills.

The AKC strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs, including providing an adequate and nutritious diet, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsible human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior. We believe that dogs kept in enclosures should be protected from harsh weather conditions, and provided appropriate food, water, and care. We believe, however, that as currently written, SB 2035 and HB 7663 are unreasonable, burdensome, and vague. We also believe that these bills fail to recognize that responsible owners know what is best for their dogs and have the best interests of their dogs at heart.

Senate Bill 2035 seeks to make it a violation for any owner or keeper to keep any dog confined in a pen, cage or other shelter for more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period. It is possible that this could restrict anyone who leaves a dog in any shelter for more than 14 hours – regardless of whether the owner periodically lets the dog out for exercise, etc. The American Kennel Club believes that this language may ultimately prove harmful to dogs. For example, responsible dog owners may not be permitted to keep their dog crated during the day while at work and again at the night, leading to potentially dangerous situations. The AKC believes that crating, when performed responsibly, is an accepted practice that ensures a dog’s safety and well-being. As currently written, this would also likely include temporary crating at all dog events,with the exception of hunting and field trials, which are exempted from these provisions. Without further clarification of “pen, cage, or other shelter,” the language of SB 2035 may also be construed to prohibit keeping dogs in fenced yards with proper protection of the elements or even in private homes.

In addition to AKC’s concerns for SB 2035, House Bill 7663 adds conflicting enforcement provisions. Subsection (c) of proposed new section 4-13-42 allows for a warning for a first violation, while subsection (e) of the same proposed new section requires any violation to be subject to up to 11 months imprisonment and/or fines between $50 and $500.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Concerned dog owners in Rhode Island are urged to contact the members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee listed below and ask that the bills not be moved forward without addressing the substantive concerns highlighted above.

Senator V. Susan Sosnowski, Chairperson
sen-sosnowski@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator William A. Walaska, Vice Chairperson
sen-walaska@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator Nicholas D. Kettle, Secretary
sen-kettle@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator David E. Bates
sen-bates@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator Daniel DaPonte
sen-daponte@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator Maryellen Goodwin
sen-goodwin@rilin.state.ri.us

Senator Michael J. McCaffrey
sen-mccaffrey@rilin.state.ri.us

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.