Rhode Island Becomes Third State This Year to Preempt Breed-Specific Legislation.

Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed[1] into law a bill that prohibits any Rhode Island city or town from regulating dogs or cats on the basis of breed. Rhode Island becomes the third state this year, and the 16th state overall, to enact a breed preemption statute. The law took effect immediately upon Governor Chafee’s signature. House Bill 5671 was introduced last February.  In accordance with all of the available scientific evidence, the sponsors argued that no breed of dog is inherently vicious or dangerous. The House agreed, passing the bill on June 26, and sending it on to the state Senate.  After a brief stop in the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee, the full Senate concurred with the House on July 3. Earlier this year, Nevada and Connecticut both enacted state laws prohibiting regulation of dogs on the basis of breed. State laws, such as those enacted by Nevada, Connecticut and Rhode Island this year – and Massachusetts last year – provide that local authorities must look beyond reactive, fear-based policies, and focus on dog ownership practices. Last summer, the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association approved a resolution urging “all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies [. . .] to repeal breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions.”[2] The resolution also supports enactment of laws encouraging responsible pet ownership.


[1] Legislative Press Bureau. (2013, July 17). Bill barring municipal ban on specific animal breeds signed into law. Retrieved from:
[2] See the NCRC Whitepaper: American Bar Association (ABA) Urges Repeal of All Breed-Specific Laws.