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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.

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.

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.

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 –

Senator Cynthia A. Coyne, Vice Chair –

Senator Jeanine Calkin, Secretary –

Senator Stephen R. Archambault –

Senator William J. Conley, Jr. –

Senator Dawn Euer –

Senator Nicholas D. Kettle –

Senator Joshua Miller –

Committee Clerk Nancy Sullivan –

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


AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide additional information on pending Rhode Island legislation as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC GR at