Some cat owners are threatening not to return to Rhode Island after they said they were hassled at last weekend's Rhode Island Pet Show in Providence.
The state is enforcing an old law that could impact new trade show business.
Pet shows bring thousands of people to Rhode Island, and they spend a lot of money on hotels, restaurants and entertainment. But plans for another convention of pet lovers are in jeopardy.
This weekend's show got off to an uneasy start when the state Department of Environmental Management asked each cat owner for proof their cat was healthy.
"Has it ever happened in any part of the world that I have ever been in? Absolutely not," said Francine Hicks, Northeast director for The International Cat Association.
She said the requirement that a veterinarian examine each cat and issue a health certificate is both expensive and inconvenient. But the DEM said the laws aren't unusual or new and that it's right to enforce them.
"All states have regulations regarding the importation of animals. Whether they choose to enforce their regulations -- as we chose not to up until this particular point -- that's up to individual states," said Scott Marshall, the state veterinarian.
Why now? The state says it's enforcing the rules because of an outbreak in animal-based illnesses in rescue dogs brought in from out of state.
But Hicks said a cat show is probably the last place an illness would show up because they're generally pampered and well cared for.
"These cats are incredibly protective by their owners. They're well vaccinated. They're well cared for. They eat better food than probably we do," Hicks said.
But rules are rules, and the state claims it will be asking to see recent health certificates at all upcoming dog and cat shows.
Hicks, who is planning a bigger cat show in 18 months, said the new enforcement may cause her to choose another city.
The means hundreds of people would take their hotel, restaurant and entertainment spending elsewhere.
"Most of the response -- in fact, all -- have said we will not return to Rhode Island. They're not talking just about to a cat show. Period. They would not go back to Rhode Island," Hicks said.
The International Cat Association says it estimates each presenter spends about $1,000 whenever they come to one of these cat shows.
23 Kenney Drive
Can't find something?
Contact Us • Work With Us • FCC Public File • For problems with the FCC Public File • EEO Public Filings
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2013 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.