Friday, July 12, 2019
On June 28, a pair of problematic Rhode Island bills, H. 5433 and S. 465, were quickly passed by both the Senate and House. Yesterday, these bills were sent to the Governor for her signature into law.
H.5433 and S.465 allow the seizure of animals if, in the opinion of an animal control officer, there is suspected neglect or abuse, for example, as indicated by an animal being lame. The AKC abhors animal cruelty and supports enforcement of strong animal cruelty laws. This bill authorizes the taking of dogs upon suspicion of neglect without first securing a warrant and raises constitutional due process concerns because it requires an owner to post bond for care of seized animals or risk their forfeiture prior to any finding of guilt.
WHY THIS IS TROUBLESOME:
- If found not guilty or charges are dropped, someone unable to afford the bond fees would be permanently deprived of their animals, with no recourse, regardless of never having been proven to have committed a crime.
- Seizure of animals upon the opinion that the animal is suffering neglect, due to sickness or lameness, is a real concern. A sick or lame animal is not evidence of neglect because animals that appear aged or injured may still be receiving proper care.
- The bill authorizes disposal of animals without acknowledging the rights of potential co-owners. Many hobby breeders co-own dogs and should be notified of such a seizure before losing their dogs.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Contact Governor Raimondo by phone at (401) 222-2080 or email at http://www.governor.ri.gov/contact/ and ask her to VETO H.5433 and S. 465. Share the points, above.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide additional information as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.