Rhode Island Animal Program Ban

This is a ban on teaching children about animals through educational outreach, a ban on animals in 4-H, and much more!

UPDATE from 4/5/19: The bill did go to hearing and after being informed of all the unintended consequences the legislators have realized this bill is not good for Rhode Island. Legislators also were not thrilled, obviously, about being misinformed by animal rights groups. Hopefully that will be remembered when the bill returns.

UPDATE: Hearing on April 4! Voice your opposition ASAP! See below for details.

Date/Time: Thursday, April 4, 2019, at "Rise of the Senate" (usually about 4:30 PM)
Location: 82 Smith St., Room 313, Providence

Hearing agenda viewable at www.status.rilin.state.ri.us/documents/agenda-16205.pdf.

Very basic summary:

  1. Ban on any animal species non-native to the U.S. being transported and then viewed by any audience;
  2. no exemptions listed in the bill;
  3. up to one year in prison and $1,000 fine.

Senate Bill 167 (or S0167) is a broad-sweeping ban on animal outreach programs and more with any species not native to the United States.  Rhode Island legislators are being duped and misled by animal rights groups. Animal rights and pseudo-animal welfare groups will again feed the legislators false propaganda and misinformation, so we must do our job to educate legislators properly.

These animal performance and traveling animal act bans are being proposed across the country at both the local and state levels. Full disclosure is never provided as to the consequences. Typically these are pitched toward ending small circuses and roadside animal shows. Animal welfare laws already exist to address any issues of cruelty or neglect, and these superfluous animal rights bills are pointless acts and schemes so that animal rights groups can continue to feed their industry. Current laws should be enforced without the continued unnecessary and repetitive legislation proposals which do nothing more than waste taxpayer money and allow legislators the veil to seem busy with "work" rather than addressing the hard issues.

This bill bans much more than elephants in circuses or lions jumping through rings. It is a ban on taking a tortoise into a classroom for an educational program about reptiles. It is a ban on taking a ball python, a red-eyed tree frog, a parakeet, and a hedgehog into a library for an educational show discussing the differences between reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. It is a ban on llamas and any other non-traditional livestock at the State Fair or county 4-H fairs. Basically, if an animal non-native to Rhode Island is placed into a vehicle and taken to any location where someone will see it, other than a veterinarian in a private room, then it would become an illegal activity, and you a criminal. You may face a year in prison for taking a leopard gecko into your child's classroom for a presentation.

Performance is so broadly defined that it can include any type of program.

Wild or exotic animal is defined as an animal that is native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, not native to the United States, or was introduced to the United States from abroad.

It has been initially sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
LINK to members: www.webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/ComMembers/ComMemS.asp?ComChoiceS=SJUD

The bill amends Title 4 of the Rhode Island General Laws, titled "Animals and Animal Husbandry," by adding a chapter (the text of the bill). The bill text can be found at the bottom of this page.

Voice your opposition and educate legislators now!
TAKE ACTION by doing one or, preferably, all of the below.
Remember to be civil and professional at all times.

  1. Email the Judiciary Committee Members (see below for more);
  2. Call the Committee Clerk (401-222-2381) and Committee Members' offices;
  3. FAX letters (samples below) to Senators' offices. You can use any or all of the sample letters below;
  4. Mail letters (samples below) to Senators' offices. You can use any or all of the sample letters below;
  5. Rhode Island residents should also contact your applicable Senators. You can find their contact details  at www.vote.sos.ri.gov by clicking "Find Your Elected Officials."

Sample Letter Headings or Email Subject Lines

  1. NO to S0167
  2. STOP S0167
  3. Animal Performance Ban is Unjust
  4. S0167 Opposition
  5. STOP Senate Bill 167

Judiciary Committee email list:

sen-lynchprata@rilegislature.gov, sen-archambault@rilegislature.gov, sen-metts@rilegislature.gov,
sen-coyne@rilegislature.gov, sen-delacruz@rilegislature.gov, sen-euer@rilegislature.gov,
sen-lombardi@rilegislature.gov, sen-mckenney@rilegislature.gov, sen-raptakis@rilegislature.gov,

Sample Letters/Emails
Please edit and personalize the sample letters.

Sample Letter 1

Dear Rhode Island Senator,

I implore you to stop Senate Bill 167. As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of Rhode Island taxpayers' money. Rhode Island already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws. My State's legislators were misled and provided misinformation regarding the implications of this bill.

This bill is far-reaching and rife with unintended consequences! If this bill passes in any form, it will be touted as an Animal Rights victory and used to inspire harmful legislation in other states. Animal rights groups should not be confused with people who are legitimately concerned for animal welfare. Hopefully, you will do what is right for Rhode Island, the animals, and responsible animal educators by saying NO to S0167! Have a good day.



Sample Letter 2

Dear Rhode Island Senator,

As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I implore you to stop Senate Bill 167. I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of Rhode Island taxpayers' money. Rhode Island already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws, including Title 4 of our State's general laws. Enforce those current laws!

Do you realize this bans many educational outreach programs before students and Scout troops? Those who teach school children about tortoises and exotic birds will be made into criminals!

The fact is that this legislation is unnecessary. S0167 would be just another unnecessary law! Punish the "bad actors" and the criminals. No new law is needed to protect animals.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for Rhode Island the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping S0167! Have a good day.



Sample Letter 3 (great to use when faxing or mailing)

Re: Opposition to Senate Bill 167, a ban on traveling animal acts

Dear Rhode Island Senator,

You must stop Senate Bill 167, an act to ban traveling animal acts. As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I am informing you that this bill is bad government policy and it is bad for Rhode Island. I ask you to realize that this bill is very poorly-written, far overreaching, unjust, and will have tremendous negative effects on both the people and animals in Rhode Island. While similar legislation is being introduced across the U.S., this bill is not the same. It goes far beyond others and demonizes legitimate animal educators. S0167 goes so far as to make illegal even the programs, often done at no charge, offered by responsible animal keepers who provide educational services to thousands upon thousands of children and groups at schools, libraries, Scout meetings, and other gatherings.

Please take heed and be cognizant of the unintended consequences of this bill. The bill infringes on the rights and freedoms of responsible animal owners who provide education regarding their animals to thousands of Rhode Island residents annually.

I am a fierce advocate of responsible animal ownership. It is unreasonable to punish those engaging in conscientious animal husbandry as a failed attempt to crack down upon those who behave negligently. This bill even chastises those providing valuable services to Rhode Island residents.

Allow me to emphasize two of the major problems with S0167:

  1. The overreach and unintended consequences are immense! The definition of “performance” would ban educational talks about a tortoise at a school or library, for example.
  2. This would be just another unnecessary and superfluous law! Rhode Island already has animal welfare laws, including the expansive Title 4. Enforce those laws, punish the criminals, and allow law-abiding, responsible citizens to continue educating others.

I must highlight the clear lack of research behind this proposal. Private keepers are the ones teaching people about animals. Due to the dreadful language used in this bill, education is considered a “benefit” and any “performance” which provides a benefit would be banned.

This bill would make illegal the hundreds of beneficial, educational outreach programs performed each year by responsible animal keepers. These events allow children to actually see these animals in person. Books and videos are great, but seeing the animals leads to much greater appreciation and fuels the desire to learn, and to conserve animals and their habitats.

Where will the conservationists and biologists of tomorrow come from if the interest in animals is never sparked? Most of today’s professionals in these relevant fields only took those paths because of events such as these, which will now be banned.

Collective punishment is never the answer. Do not lump the incredible services provided by these educators into the same category as acts of animal cruelty. The atrociousness of this bill is staggering and a ban will only make matters worse. A ban will actually create animal welfare and public safety issues which will lead to the problems you claim to be preventing.

This broadly sweeping ban will be unbeknownst to many. Who would imagine that taking a tortoise, parrot, ferret, or any other non-native animal to a school for an educational seminar would be a crime? Citizens will not think to check to see if it is illegal and will be unaware. You will be making criminals out of people who just want to share the magnificence of their animals.

Prohibitions such as this proposed ban demonstrate an irrational approach over common sense. Similar performance bans do exist in some places. However, the language used in this bill is far more restrictive and unreasonable.

The captive care, or husbandry, of these animals has evolved drastically over the last two decades. The animals are now bred under human care and not imported from the wild. So much has changed and the misinformation presented by animal rights groups consists of remnants from a time which no longer exists.

Lastly, I have heard the argument that exotic animals are not cared for properly. Animal rights groups often throw around pseudo-statistics to support this claim. Please do not be hoodwinked by their deceitful rhetoric.

While these groups insist that all exotics are kept improperly, that is not the case nor is there legitimate data to support it. As just one example, for the past several years reptiles have been found in 5% of U.S. households. If all these animals were kept improperly, shelters and rescues would be beyond flooded with surrendered reptiles and amphibians (collectively known as “herps”). This simply is not the case.

This bill will actually cause animal welfare issues by removing education as to which species make good pets and which do not. Unfortunately and occasionally, there are people who bring exotic animals home without proper research, which also happens with dogs and cats. I advocate for in-depth research before bringing any animal home, be it a dog, cat, gerbil, snake, gecko, parakeet, or fish. Just as we see with dogs and cats, there are irresponsible keepers, but they are a small minority. Collective punishment (punishment of the whole due to a few) is not the answer. Do not ban one of the greatest educational tools available to future pet owners.

Please feel free to contact stakeholders and actual experts (not the phonies working for those who support this bill) for any factual information regarding reptiles and amphibians, as well as other exotic animals. It is apparent you have either received false information or have failed to consult legitimate subject matter experts. Either I or the stakeholders will gladly clear it all up for you.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for Rhode Island, the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping S0167 in its tracks. NO to S0167! Have a good day.




Senate Bill 167 Text

Bill text: www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/RI-2019-SB-167-Performance-Ban.pdf

Or below:

SECTION 1. Title 4 of the General Laws entitled "ANIMALS AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following chapter:


4-28-1. Definitions.
As used in this section:
(1) "Mobile or traveling housing facility" means a vehicle, including a truck, trailer, or railway car, used to transport or house an animal used for performance.

(2) "Performance" means any animal act, carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, presentation, public showing, race, ride, trade show, or similar undertaking in which animals perform tricks, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the
entertainment, amusement, or benefit of a live audience.

(3) "Traveling animal act" means any performance which requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of the performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility.

(4) "Wild or exotic animal" is defined as an animal that is native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, not native to the United States, or was introduced to the United States from abroad.

4-28-2. Prohibition.
No person shall use a wild or exotic animal in a traveling animal act.

4-28-3. Penalties.
Any person who violates the provisions of section § 4-28-2 shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

Article written by USARK