On Wednesday, May 23, the Rhode Island Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee will consider two bills of concern to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Senate Bill 2055 seeks to amend the state’s Care of Dogs statute (1) by removing the provision that currently allows dogs to be kept outside during certain temperature conditions if they have access to an outdoor housing facility and (2) by eliminating tethering exemptions for hunting and sled dogs. Senate Bill 2778 seeks to impose potentially problematic bond-for-care requirements. AKC opposes both S2055 and S2778 as currently written, and encourages all concerned Rhode Island residents to contact the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee and urge them to oppose these bills or seek major amendments when it considers them on Wednesday, May 23.
ABOUT SENATE BILL 2055
Dogs may be humanely contained in a multitude of ways. Humane tethering is an important tool that allows for the control of dogs while in training, in the field, or when being groomed and prepared for dog shows. It also allows for acclimation and enrichment for sled, hunting, and other working or performance dogs. As with all types of animal care, dogs should never be tethered in a manner that could cause them harm.
The AKC opposes S2055 because the bill is unreasonable and fails to respect the purposes for which hunting and sledding breeds are kept and how they may be humanely acclimated to environmental conditions prior to doing the work for which they were bred. Instead of placing additional limits on animal owners, AKC believes a better legislative alternative would focus on developing increased funding for enforcement of current cruelty laws.
ABOUT SENATE BILL 2778
The AKC strongly believes that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated. However, for those already incurring high costs to defend themselves and to protect their ownership rights, the additional cost of temporary care, shelter, feeding, and boarding fees as required by Senate Bill 2778 could prove an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a person is found not guilty or where charges were dropped, a defendant unable to afford the fees would be permanently deprived of their property, with no recourse, regardless of never having been proven to have committed a crime.
We are also concerned that S.2778 fails to explicitly protect the property interests of non-possessory co-owners when providing which entities or individuals may take ownership of seized animals. We believe that the ownership interests of non-possessory co-owners not accused of treatment that resulted in any of the enumerated conditions in proposed section 4-1.2-1 must be explicitly protected. Proposed section 4-1.2-5 should be amended to provide that the property interests of non-possessory co-owners by first being offered custody before any other entity or qualified individuals.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
AKC strongly encourages all concerned Rhode Island fanciers and enthusiasts to contact the members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee and urge them to oppose Senate Bill 2055 and Senate Bill 2778 as currently written.
Senator V. Susan Sosnowski, Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Cynthia A. Coyne, Vice Chair – email@example.com
Senator Jeanine Calkin, Secretary – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Stephen R. Archambault – email@example.com
Senator William J. Conley, Jr. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Dawn Euer – email@example.com
Senator Nicholas D. Kettle – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Joshua Miller – email@example.com
Committee Clerk Nancy Sullivan – Slegislation@rilegislature.gov
Concerned Rhode Island residents are also strongly encouraged to attend Wednesday’s hearing to respectfully urge opposition to S2055 and S2778 in person. Details on the hearing may be viewed at http://status.rilin.state.ri.us/documents/agenda-14619.pdf.
OTHER BILLS BEING HEARD ON MAY 23, 2018:
- House Bill 7420 – This bill seeks to prohibit the rental, lease, or financing of any sale of a dog or cat by any person, or business with violations punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500) for the first violation and up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each subsequent violation, and/or revocation of its retail sales license. This act would specifically not prohibit the temporary leasing or rental of purebred dogs for breeding, animals used in shows and exhibitions, and working animals such as guide dogs. H7420 is scheduled to be considered by the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee.
- House Bill 7641 – This bill seeks to prohibit the sale of dogs under eight (8) weeks of age unless approved for sale in writing from a licensed Rhode Island veterinarian, with violations subject to up to twelve (12) months imprisonment or one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. Dog pounds and animal shelters would be exempt. H7641 is scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.
- House Bill 8171 – This technical corrections bill adds “breeders” to the list of entities whose advertisements are to be dispositive of activities requiring licensure. (See Section 16, page 46 of bill.) In Rhode Island, those who breed fewer than three litters or 20 puppies in a year are considered “hobby breeders” and not subject to licensure and oversight. H8171 is also scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.
- Senate Bill 2510 SUB A – This bill seeks to amend the definition of a kennel to exclude a residence where the sheltering, feeding and watering, of not more than four (4) animals, not owned by the proprietor, for a fee, and shall still be subject to applicable municipal ordinances. Such a residence, however, would be subject to department of environmental management inspection and investigation of animal care complaints. S2510 (Sub. A) is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.
- Senate Bill 2777 – Like H7641 (above), S2777 would prohibit the sale of dogs under eight (8) weeks of age unless approved for sale in writing from a licensed Rhode Island veterinarian, with violations subject to up to twelve (12) months imprisonment or one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. Dog pounds and animal shelters would be exempt. S2777 is also scheduled to be considered by the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide additional information on pending Rhode Island legislation as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.