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3/8/2017 The Humane Society announces 2016 Humane State Legislator Award recipients
STATE HOUSE – The Humane Society of the United States named three House members as their 2016 Humane State Legislator award recipients. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi, and Representative Patricia Serpa each received an award for their respective efforts to foster animal welfare last session.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Humane Society, and I do so on behalf of all of my colleagues in the House who share my commitment to improving animal welfare in Rhode Island,” said Speaker Mattiello, who also won the award in 2015. “Animals cannot ask for help, but when we work together we give them a voice. I want to thank the Humane Society and their advocates for working to ensure all animals are cared for and loved.”

During the event, the Humane Society highlighted two laws adopted last session that enacted new animal protections. H-7440, introduced by Majority Leader Shekarchi, banned the possession and sale of shark fins. Previously, sharks could be caught, de-fin it, and released back into the wild where they would inevitably die.

“Rhode Island now stands with the ten other states that have outlawed the cruel practice of shark finning,” said Majority Leader Shekarchi. “I am honored to receive this award, and I want to thank the Humane Society for the great work they do each and every day to protect animals.”

The Humane Society recognized Representative Serpa for her leadership on House Bill 8197, which made it illegal to use bullhooks to train and/or control elephants. Last year, Representative Serpa also introduced successful legislation commonly referred to as Moses’ Law that stiffened penalties on animal abuse.

“I will fight to protect all animals for as long as I am a state representative,” said Rep. Serpa, who received her fourth award from the Humane Society. “Rhode Island has cemented its place as a leader on animal welfare by becoming the first state in the country to outlaw the use of bullhorn when training elephants. I am honored by this award and I want to thank the many advocates and volunteers who joined me in this fight.”

The Humane Society of the United States gives out the Humane State Legislator Awards during their annual Humane Lobby Day at the State House. The event is an opportunity for Rhode Island residents to meet with lawmakers and discuss animal welfare.

“Each year the Humane Society of the United States recognizes legislators who have made path-breaking advances for animals in their state capitals,” said Joanne Bourbeau, who is the regional director for the Humane Society. “Rhode Island has strengthened its animal protection laws in recent years under Speaker Mattiello’s leadership through the hard work of Leader Shekarchi, Representative Serpa, and our many volunteers. We look forward to working with the entire General Assembly this session to improve animal welfare in the Ocean State.”

Every year the Humane Society issues the Humane State Ranking, which compares animal protection laws across the country based on six categories. Rhode Island ranked 14th in last year, up seven spots from their inaugural ranking 2009 of 21st. Several bills have already been introduced this year that create new animal protections, including the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (H-5605) and a bill to expand spay/neuter funding (H-5425).      

For more information, contact:
Jacob Bissaillon, Deputy Communications Director
Speaker of the House
Providence, RI 02903
401.222.1470