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On Tuesday, June 29, the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee will meet and consider H. 5580, Custody Procedures for Pets in Divorce/Separation.

  1. 5580 would create a custody procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal. While that standard is similar to the one used in child custody disputes, long-standing legal traditions in the United States provide that pets are considered the legal property of their owners under which their care and treatment is ensured, not as children.

The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) has discussed concerns about using the word “custody” for companion animals with the bill sponsor, Representative Charlene Lima, and she has agreed to support striking the word “custody” from the bill and inserting “possession” or “ownership” instead.  We are grateful for her understanding and collaboration.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Before end of business tomorrow, please email the House Judiciary Committee at and request that H. 5580:

  • Makes a distinction between companion animals and children,
  • Strikes the word “custody”, and
  • Inserts the words “possession” or “ownership” instead.

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