Stricter rules for pet shops, kennels, shelters, in RI

By News Staff

Reporting by Liz Tufts

ltufts@abc6.com

On Thursday the state starts cracking down on how animals are treated in Rhode Island. All pet shops, shelters, kennels, and animal breeders must now follow a strict list of rules.

Will Champlin, co-owner of Critter Hut in Narragansett, is one of 48 licensed pet shop owners in the state. He’s working in overdrive trying to meet all new requirements put in place for pet shops, shelters, kennels, and breeders in Rhode Island.

"You hear horror stories about puppy mills and that type of a thing, and if we can separate ourselves from that, is great," says Champlin.

Some of the changes include documenting where animals are coming from and making that information available to customers.

"The type of signage that would be available at pet stores would be to identify the source of the animal so people can make informed decisions on whether they are buying their animal from reputable breeders or not," says veterinarian Scott Marshall.

All pet shops must also make sure the cages where the animals are living meet necessary requirements.

"Fewer animals per square foot, fewer animals per cage, larger cages needed," says Champlin.

If they don’t comply, the Department of Environmental Management now has the right to issue fines, suspend licenses, and even file criminal charges. The state says pet shops are some of the biggest violators.

"We can now interfere and hope it doesn’t spiral out of control," says Marshall.

Champlin says the changes are needed even if it means losing out on some money, "Since we have to have bigger cages, we will have fewer animals, so the price will go up and we will have a smaller variety on hand."

Fines start at $500 and go up to $1,000. Rhode Island is the first state in New England to adopt these stricter rules.

© WLNE-TV 2015