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Rhode Island: House Committees To Consider Eight Important Dog Bills Wednesday (3/20)

(Monday, March 18, 2013)

AKC has just learned that eight bills of interest are scheduled to be considered by two different committees of the Rhode Island House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. The American Kennel Club (AKC) urges interested Rhode Island owners and enthusiasts to contact the committee members (linked to below) and to express any concerns you may have.

HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the six bills listed below on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Room 313 of the State House in Providence. The committee is expected to convene upon the Rise of the House. Parties interested in the bills listed below are encouraged to contact the committee no later than Tuesday, March 19. Click here to view the names of the House Judiciary Committee members and their email contact information.

  • H 5333 – This bill would require animal shelter managers to certify that certain conditions be met prior to the euthanization of an animal, including: the expiration of the legally required holding period; there is no empty space available for the animal in the facility; a foster home is not available; and that another municipal or private Rhode Island shelter is unwilling to accept the animal. The AKC encourages interested parties to comment on the legislation.

  • H 5426 – This bill would provide penalties to be assessed against a person or corporation (including agents and successors) that owns, occupies, manages, or provides services in connection with any real property that require the devocalization of dogs as a condition of real estate occupancy. The AKC believes that any decision to debark a dog, as with other veterinary medical decisions, is best left to individual owners and their veterinarians. Click here to see AKC’s previous statement regarding debarking legislation in Rhode Island. (See also S 177.)

  • H 5429 – This bill would allow an “animal welfare” or “animal rights” organization incorporated in Rhode Island to assist a pet owner in the adoption process provided that the organization is not involved in the sale of such animal. Additionally, such groups are permitted to foster a dog or cat as long as it follows the limits on the number of animals that can be housed under local or town ordinances. The AKC is concerned that current Rhode Island law does not provide adequate definitions of “animal welfare” or “animal rights” organizations, and that inclusion of those vague terms without clarification may lead to system abuses by radical organizations.

  • H 5431 – This bill would expand the legal definition of guardian to include a Rhode Island incorporated animal welfare or animal rights group. The AKC supports the use of the term “owner” rather than “guardian” when referring to the keeping of dogs. The AKC strongly opposes H 5431’s radical and explicit expansion of the term “guardian” that will further dilute the rights individual owners may have in their animals.

  • H 5494 – This bill would expand the legal definition of unnecessary cruelty to one who willfully, intentionally, recklessly, and/or knowingly authorizes or permits that animal to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering, or cruelty of any kind. It would also define “adequate living conditions.” The AKC is concerned that the proposed definition of “adequate living conditions” is vaguely written, and suggests that clarification be provided that primary enclosures be of large enough so that the dog can sit, stand, lie down, or turn around comfortably.

  • H 5671 – This bill would amend the state’s chapters on Dogs and the Regulation of Vicious Dogs to prevent cities and towns from enacting any regulation or ordinance specific to any particular breed of dog, cat, or other animal. The AKC strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. The AKC supports H 5671 as currently written.

HOUSE CORPORATIONS COMMITTEE

The House Corporations Committee is scheduled to consider the two bills listed below on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Room 203 of the State House in Providence. The committee is expected to convene upon the Rise of the House. Parties interested in the bills listed below are encouraged to contact the committee no later than Tuesday, March 19. Click here to view the names of the House Corporations Committee members and their email contact information.

  • H 5398 – This bill would impose additional regulations on the operations of pet grooming facilities. The proposal requires those who provide pet grooming services in exchange for a fee to acquire an annual $100 license; provides justification for license denial or revocation if after a hearing it is determined that the housing facilities and primary enclosures are inadequate or if feeding, watering, bathing, sanitizing, and housing practices are not consistent with the state laws regarding care; and increases fines for all regulated entities (i.e., pet shops, kennels, grooming facilities, or public auctions) operating without a license (from $50 to $100 for a first offense; from $100 to $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense). The AKC encourages interested parties to comment on the legislation.

  • H 5595 – This bill would allow licensed veterinarians in other states to practice in Rhode Island during emergency situations at the direction of the Rhode Island state veterinarian or the chief of the division of agriculture. The AKC encourages interested parties to comment on the legislation.

AKC’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will monitor the consideration of all Rhode Island legislation, and will report developments as they warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.