AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) encourages Rhode Island residents to take action as soon as possible on S. 534 and S. 601, which seek to create court-appointed legal advocates for animals; and S.319, which attempts to amend the law regarding animals confined in motor vehicles. These bills will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Thursday, May 6, 2021, starting at 5pm.
Lawyers for Animals: AKC opposes S. 534 and S. 601 because they would create court-appointed legal advocates for animals. Rhode Island courts appoint independent advocates to protect the legal rights of children or other people who are unable to manage their own affairs. S. 534 and S. 601 would mirror this statutory text and extend it to “animals”. The goal of animal rights activists is to give animals the same rights and privileges as people by changing the legal classification of animals from property to “legal beings”. The AKC is an animal welfare organization that does not support legislation designed to provide animals with human rights. Changing the legal status of dogs as property would ultimately hamstring the ability of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.
For more background on this important issue:
Click here to read AKC’s Understanding the Difference Between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare.
Click here to read AKC’s Laws That Provide Court-Appointed Animal Advocates Could Undermine Animal Welfare.
Seizure of Animals Confined in Motor Vehicle: AKC opposes S. 319. Rhode Island law already prohibits the confinement of any animal in a motor vehicle in a manner that threatens its life or health. S. 319 would amend the law by authorizing an officer to keep the animal for up to 72 hours or until a court arraignment is scheduled where the judge, after a hearing, would decide whether to return the animal to the owner or not. AKC strongly believes that no dog should be left in a vehicle if its comfort, health, and safety is in danger. Laws addressing this issue must provide a fair and balanced approach that protects both the health of dogs and the rights of responsible dog owners. AKC is concerned that under S. 319, the permanent loss of ownership amounts to a loss of property without that balance or due process.
Click here to read AKC’s Good Samaritan Laws: Unintended Consequences Require a Balanced Approach.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
First, immediately email the Senate Judiciary Committee at email@example.com with your name and town to express your opposition to S. 534 and S. 601, the Lawyers for Animals bills; and S. 319, the “Dogs in Cars” bill.
Second, despite the Capitol remaining closed due to COVID-19, concerned Rhode Island residents can speak virtually during the committee hearing. Click here to sign up before 4pm on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
AKC GR will continue to provide updates on pending dog-related legislation in Rhode Island. For more information on legislative issues in the state, contact AKC GR at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.