AKC News

Press Center
More Headlines

Action Needed Now: Dangerous Rhode Island Bills Sent to Gov. Chafee for Approval

(Friday, June 15, 2012)

Rhode Island Senate Bill 2035 and House Bill 7663 have been forwarded to Gov. Lincoln Chafee for his signature or veto. Among other provisions, these bills would make it unlawful for dog owners to keep a dog confined in a pen, cage, or other shelter for more than 14 hours, including non-concurrent periods, within a 24-hour period. The American Kennel Club believes these bills, if either is signed into law, will have an enormously negative impact on responsible Rhode Island dog owners or those who visit Rhode Island for dog events. It is imperative that individuals concerned with these dangerous bills contact Governor Chafee’s office and respectfully request that the Governor veto 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.

AKC’S CONCERNS:

We believe that SB 2035 and HB 7663 could prove harmful to many responsible owners and their dogs. For example, consider an owner who, while at work during the day and while asleep at night, utilizes crating to ensure their dog’s safety. Under the provisions of these bills—regardless of whether an owner acts responsibly by providing walks, training, exercise, play time, etc.—such an owner would be breaking state law.

Additionally, the overly broad language of SB 2035 and HB 7663 may give rise to potentially threatening situations for dogs themselves. Owners know best when it comes to the care of their animals. Those who successfully utilize responsible crating should not be arbitrarily limited from the practice, thereby risking exposure to household situations that could be dangerous to, for example, mischievous dogs.

Moreover, the vague language of SB 2035 and HB 7663 may also be construed to prohibit additional acceptable means of maintaining dogs. For example, these bills will likely prohibit keeping dogs in fenced yards with proper protection from the elements and the temporary crating of dogs en route to and at all dog events (with the exception of hunting and field trials, which are specifically exempted from these provisions). Enforcement of the provisions as written will cripple dog events with safety concerns. In 2011, AKC-approved dog events brought approximately $2.5 million into Rhode Island. Enactment of SB 2035 and HB 7663 will almost certainly reduce that number. We believe that clarification should be included to ensure that responsible owners may continue to maintain dogs in fenced-in yards, in homes, during travel, and at dog events as long as appropriate and safe conditions are provided.

The American Kennel Club also believes that, as currently written, 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:

It is imperative that all concerned dog owners, both from Rhode Island and from surrounding areas who compete at Rhode Island events, contact Governor Lincoln Chaffee and respectfully request that he veto SB 2035 and HB 7663. Additionally let him know that you welcome any opportunity to work with him or the Rhode Island legislature to help develop effective solutions to any substantiated animal control issues that would also protect and enhance responsible dog ownership in Rhode Island.

Governor Lincoln Chafee
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2080
Email: governor@governor.ri.gov

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