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This week, the House Judiciary Committee is accepting testimony on multiple bills.  Text of bills are embedded in the links.  AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) strongly encourages Rhode Island residents to take action as follows:

Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at the rise of the House:

DOGS OUTSIDE AND UNATTENDEDH. 5736 would amend the animal cruelty law to prohibit tethering a dog outside and unattended in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above.  Violations would result in a $1,000 fine.

AKC GR completely agrees that no dog should ever be left in dangerous weather where their health and safety could be at risk.  We oppose H. 5736 because it includes specific temperatures, which do not take into account that certain breeds thrive outside these temperatures.   Also, it does not consider that some breeds require a more moderate climate and even a brief time in temperatures permitted under this proposal could jeopardize the dog’s health.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  First, email the House Judiciary Committee at HouseJudiciary@rilegislature.gov with your name and town to express your opposition to H. 5736.

Second, if you would like to speak at the committee hearing, sign up by clicking here.  You will need to monitor the House session and after they adjourn, the Judiciary Committee will broadcast its hearing live here.  When it’s your turn to speak, committee staff will call you by phone and patch you into the hearing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at 7pm:

CUSTODY PROCEDURES FOR PETS IN DIVORCE/SEPARATIONH. 5580 would create a custody procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal, similar to that 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.  AKC GR is opposed to H. 5580 because Rhode Island courts are already capable of fairly adjudicating pet ownership in a divorce or separation proceeding under the assignment of property provisions.

CONTESTED PET OWNERSHIPH.5618 would create a legal process where formerly-cohabitating parties could seek from the district court a determination as to ownership of any pet.  Again, AKC GR is opposed to H.5618 because Rhode Island courts are already capable of fairly adjudicating pet ownership under the assignment of property provisions.

DOMESTIC ABUSE PREVENTIONH. 5569 would permit the family court to award custody of household pets to the plaintiff in a domestic abuse complaint.  AKC GR supports H. 5569.  Keeping women and their pets safe enables them to enjoy the comfort of each other’s company as they make a major life change.  AKC Humane Fund is proud to be the leading organization that provides financial assistance to domestic abuse shelters that accept pets.  These grants make it easier for women’s shelters to welcome pets and help break the cycle of domestic abuse.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  First, email the House Judiciary Committee at HouseJudiciary@rilegislature.gov with your name and town to express your opposition to H. 5580 and H. 5618, and support of H. 5569 to protect domestic abuse victims and their pets.  Judiciary Committee will broadcast its hearing live.

Second, to speak during the live committee hearing, sign up by clicking here.  When it’s your turn to speak, committee staff will call you by phone and patch you into the hearing.

The Wednesday, March 10, Judiciary Committee hearing will be broadcast live 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 doglaw@akc.org.

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