Rhode Island - H7477
AN ACT RELATING TO ANIMALS AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY -- ANIMAL CARE (Requires pet shops to only sell cats or dogs obtained from an animal shelter, dog pound or animal rescue.)
February 7, 2018
HB 7477 will create a mandate that pet shops obtain cats and dogs “obtained from, or is displayed in cooperation with an animal shelter, dog pound or rescue,” and will eliminate the option of licensed and regulated breeders. Animals in rescue channels are transported and relocated without any oversight, licensure, or inspections. This bill gives unbalanced preference to unregulated rescue channels as a source for pet shops over commercial breeders that are inspected, licensed, and have a platform for consumer protection through complaints. None of these levels of consumer protection exists in the realm of rescues.
Rescue relocation exists because the number of dogs in shelters in many parts of the country are so low that relocation is keeping shelters going. Should HB7477 become law, it will undoubtedly greatly increase the number of rescue dogs from unknown sources out of state and even outside of the country being channeled into the state of Rhode Island, at great risk to public health. There have been countless cases of relocated rescue dogs from unknown sources with extremely contagious diseases, some even transmittable to humans, such as canine influenza, brucellosis, and even RABIES. Rescue relocation is the real issue that needs regulation here, NOT further regulation for breeders.
Not only will this bill open the door for more unregulated animals on the market, it will also greatly decrease the availability and choice of purebred dogs for Rhode Island residents looking for a pet dog. Consumers should have the right to choose their pet, whether it be from a responsible breeder, a pet store that selects dogs from inspected and licensed breeders, or from a shelter or rescue. It is not the legislature’s place to make that choice for them. Removing pet shops as a viable source for purpose bred pets will send more consumers looking for particular breeds to underground sources. Forcing pet shops to purchase dogs only from rescue sources not only wrongfully limits consumer choices, but will also potentially regulate otherwise legal pet shops out of business, which is simply un-American.