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3/2/2016 Senate passes Archambault bill to hold animals confined in motor vehicle pending district court hearing
STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) that would allow law enforcement officials to hold animals found confined in motor vehicles for up to 72 hours, pending a district court hearing.

The bill (2016-S 2109) now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The proposed legislation would amend an existing law that currently allows law enforcement and animal control officials to remove animals confined in motor vehicles. The bill would broaden the law to allow the animal to be held for 72 hours or until an arraignment if the officer reasonably believes the animal needs or requires any additional medical treatment and/or medical observation.

“Leaving a dog in a car on a hot day is extremely cruel,” said Senator Archambault. “Studies have shown that on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. We have a law that allows law enforcement and animal control officials to remove animals from these situations and penalize those responsible. But it doesn’t address what happens to the animals afterward. This bill would provide greater protection for the animal and greater accountability for the perpetrator.”

In addition to allowing law enforcement to hold the animal, the bill calls for a district court hearing to determine if and when the owner may retrieve the animal, and the amount the owner must pay for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impounding of the animal.

The owner would have to pay all charges ordered by the court before retrieving the animal. The court may also order that the owner permanently surrender physical possession and ownership of the animal.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) and Frank A. Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903