Tomorrow, January 25, 2022, the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is accepting testimony on multiple bills impacting dog owners (agenda). Text of bills impacting dog owners are embedded in the links below. AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) encourages Rhode Island residents to express opposition as follows:
ANIMAL ABUSER REGISTRY ACT – H. 6624 would establish an animal abuser registry with penalties for anyone who sells an animal to a convicted offender. Transferring an animal without checking the registry would be a violation resulting in a $1,000 fine.
AKC GR agrees that those who treat dogs in a negligent or cruel manner should be held accountable. We oppose H. 6624 because offenders could easily evade tracking by providing sellers with fake or altered names or by not providing updated addresses. Additionally, no evidence exists to show that animal abuse registries reduce the rates of second or subsequent offenses or of deterring other potential animal cruelty violators. AKC believes a better use of the State’s resources than establishing and maintaining a separate registry would be to focus on and utilize enforcement activities that are proven effective.
DOMESTIC ABUSE PREVENTION – H. 7088 would amend the district courts’ domestic violence protections to include pets in protection orders. We applaud this effort, particularly given the complex dilemma involving pets and domestic violence situations. However, AKC is concerned about the use of the word “custody” in H. 7088. When referring to children, there are three main types of “custody: Legal, physical, and Joint. However, animals are legally classified as property, not as a legal person. To reflect that difference more appropriately, AKC GR is asking that the committee amend the text to substitute the words “possession or ownership” for “custody” in line 15 of page 3.
CUSTODY PROCEDURES FOR PETS IN DIVORCE/SEPARATION – H. 7087 would create a court procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal. 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. Last session, AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor to amend the predecessor bill by replacing “custody” with “possession or ownership”. AKC supports the text, and believes no action is necessary at this time.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Written testimony is strongly encouraged on H. 6624 and H. 7088. It may be submitted via email to committee members at HouseJudiciary@rilegislature.gov. Indicate your name, bill number, and viewpoint against. It should be submitted no later than 1PM on Tuesday, January 25.
Anyone wishing to speak live to the committee by phone during the evening hearing Tuesday the 25th, must sign up using this form by 4PM today, January 24, 2022.
The hearing will be televised on Capitol Television, which can be seen on Cox Channels 15 and 61, in high definition on Cox Channel 1061, on Full Channel (Channel 15), and on Channel 34 by Verizon subscribers. It will also be live streamed here.
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.