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7/5/2018 Governor signs bill to prohibit animal mistreatment — failing to provide water, shelter, care
STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation introduced by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) and Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) that prohibits mistreatment of animals — specifically the failure to provide adequate water, shelter or veterinary care.

The law (2018-H 7045B, 2018-S 2055A) also prevents exposure for a period of more than 15 minutes whenever a weather advisory or warning has been issued.

 “I have received several phone calls from people who are concerned about the welfare of dogs during deep freezes like the one we had earlier this year,” said Representative Serpa. “They and I want to guarantee that these animals will be protected. This legislation specifically address animal mistreatment by neglect and gives them better protections under the law.”

Representative Serpa filed the legislation in the wake of an incident in Warwick that garnered national attention. According to news reports, the owner of several pit bulls came under public protest for keeping the dogs tethered outside in order to acclimate them to cold temperatures.

The current law, which the General Assembly enacted last year, makes it illegal to keep any dog outside when the ambient temperature is above or below the industry standard for the weather safety scale as set forth in the most recent adopted version of the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Weather Safety Scale. However, the law makes an exemption for any person raising or training a gun dog or hunting dog.
“This bill removes the exception to the law and more specifically spells out protections for dogs in cold weather,” said Senator Lynch Prata. “It also spells out the definition of ‘adequate shelter’ as one that provides sufficient space for the dog to maintain comfortable rest, normal posture and range of movement.”

Exposing any dog to adverse weather conditions strictly for the purpose of conditioning would be prohibited under the legislation. While the legislation would allow for certain hunting dogs, dogs guarding livestock or sled dogs to stay outside, such action would require written authorization from an animal control officer. The written authorization would have to be renewed annually.

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