A bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island state legislature that would amend the current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.
The bill was introduced to allow the city of Warwick to enact a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.
HB 7630 would add the following language to current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws. Breed discriminatory laws would be prohibited “…except in those instances where the rule, regulation or ordinance pertains to spaying or neutering of pit bulls and staffordshire bull terriers located in the city of Warwick, and provided such rule, regulation or ordinance shall not apply to licensed breeders of such dogs.”
When the current state law that prohibited breed discriminatory laws was passed, it was unclear what the intention of the bill was, regarding existing ordinances in the text of the bill. The bills sponsors, however stated very clearly that they intended it to apply retroactively. Pawtucket took issue with the law, saying that their existing breed discriminatory ordinance should be allowed to stay. Warwick was another town that had an existing breed discriminatory law.
Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter. Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”
It appears that Pawtucket is going the way of litigation in an attempt to keep their old law, but Warwick is attempting to get this specific legislative exemption.
The amending of a state law to allow one town an exemption is bizarre, to say the least. The bills sponsor has already said that the bill was intended to act retroactively, and this is Warwick’s attempt at being about to keep their old breed discriminatory law. Four of the 5 sponsors of the bills are located in Warwick, the fifth is from Providence. Clearly city officials are asking for this from their representatives.
The bill has been assigned to the House Municipal Government Committee.
Warwick residents should reach out to their representative and ask them to pull the bill. Be factual and polite, we have years of the failure of such laws to back up the opposition.
Rhode Island residents: Please reach out to the committee, particularly if one of the members of the committee is your specific representative. The state law was passed to protect the property rights of all residents of Rhode Island, not those residents who don’t live in Warwick.