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At its meeting on Wednesday, February 28, the Rhode Island House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee is scheduled to consider two bills of major concern to the American Kennel Club (AKC).  Part of a multi-state effort by animal rights groups to aimed at ending the purposeful breeding of dogs, House Bill 7477 would mandate that pet stores may only sell cats and dogs sourced from shelters, pounds, and rescues.  As health and temperament history of such animals cannot be guaranteed, it also repeals existing consumer protections and redress for people who purchase dogs and cats at pet stores.

House Bill 7045 amends the state’s tethering law by removing exceptions for hunting and sled dogs. While this proposal may be well intentioned, the one-size-fits all proposal fails to consider sound animal husbandry practices and the specialized needs of certain dogs and responsible dog owners.

The American Kennel Club encourages all Rhode Island dog owners to contact the members of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee and urge them to oppose both House Bill 7477 and House Bill 7045.



The American Kennel Club emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. We actively promote efforts to ensure that people are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a pet that is right for them. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts responsible pet choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.

House Bill 7477 runs completely opposite to these principles.  This bill would prohibit pet shops from offering to sell dogs or cats unless they were sourced from, or are displayed in cooperation with, animal shelters, dog pounds, or rescues.  H.7477 would also remove consumer protections for those who purchase a dog or cat from a pet store; and does not require shelters, pounds, or rescues to work with pet stores, thereby jeopardizing the existence of those small businesses.

The AKC shares public concerns about the wellbeing of all pets. As a not-for profit organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of all dogs, our clubs operate the largest purebred rescue network in the nation. We advocate for responsible dog ownership and support strong enforcement of the Federal Animal Welfare Act, including the updated 2014 retail pet store rule that requires breeders who sell pets to pet stores to be inspected and meet federal animal welfare requirements.

The AKC is extremely concerned that House Bill 7477 ignores these recent advances in regulatory oversight for purpose-bred pets and instead seeks to ban the retail sale of pets from licensed, inspected and regulated breeders or those selling such pets. This draconian proposal exacerbates animal welfare issues in the community because it removes from the market the most regulated, health-tested and temperament-checked sources of pets, while promoting pets from sources that lack this oversight. It further harms the public by removing available consumer protections for new pet owners and potentially increases public health risks for the entire community.



Over the course of AKC’s 134-year history, our dedicated breeders and owners have learned that dogs may be humanely contained in a multitude of safe and effective 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 would cause them harm.

The provisions of House Bill 7045 run counter to this experience-based knowledge by seeking to remove performance-based exceptions for hunting and sled dogs that currently appear in the state’s tethering law.   The AKC believes H. 7045 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.

A companion bill in the Senate, S.2055, has already been sent to study.


Rhode Island residents concerned with House Bill 7477 and House Bill 7045 are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee; and respectfully request they oppose H.7477 and H.7045.  Please feel free to use the talking points above.

Representative Joseph M. McNamara, Chair –

Representative Dennis M. Canario, First Vice-Chair –

Representative Mia A. Ackerman, Second Vice-Chair –

Representative Samuel A. Azzinaro –

Representative David A. Bennett –

Representative Julie A. Casimiro –

Representative Susan R. Donovan –

Representative Arthur Handy –

Representative Robert B. Lancia –

Representative Shelby Maldonado –

Representative Ramon A. Perez –

Representative Robert D. Phillips –

Representative Marcia R. Ranglin-Vassell –

Representative Sherry Roberts –

Representative Moira J. Walsh –

Committee Secretary Lisa Cataldi –

Concerned Rhode Island residents are also strongly encouraged to attend the Wednesday, February 28, meeting of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee and respectfully urge opposition to H.7477 and H.7045.  Committee meeting information may be viewed here.

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide updates on these bills as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC GR at