Assembly OKs Ciccone, Nardolillo bill for stricter animal abuse penalties, including loss of animal custody
STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III and Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III and passed by the General Assembly last week will stiffen penalties for animal abuse and prohibits those convicted of it from living with animals for either five or 15 years, depending on the severity of the crime.
“Animal abuse is a sickening crime against the innocent that should be taken more seriously. Animals, of course, cannot speak for themselves, and the result is that their suffering often goes unpunished or their abuser is given little more than a slap on the wrist, and carries on mistreating animals. There should be more serious penalties, and above all else, abusers must not be allowed to have easy access to more animals in their homes. If we are serious about protecting animals from abuse, we should start by getting them out of the homes of convicted abusers,” said Senator Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).
The legislation (2018-S 2135A, 2018-H 8170aa), which now goes to the governor, would prohibit anyone who is convicted or pleads nolo contendere to overwork, mistreatment or failure to feed animals from possessing or residing with any animal for five years for a misdemeanor, 15 years for a felony. Currently, judges may decide to prohibit a person convicted of animal cruelty from having animals, but they don’t always.
It would increase the penalty for repeat convictions for animal cruelty to a maximum of six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 and a mandatory 100 hours of community restitution.
“No animal should ever be handed over to someone convicted of animal cruelty,” said Representative Nardolillo (R-Dist. 28, Coventry). “Our courts have the power to protect these innocent creatures from further abuse but only if they are willing to hand down the appropriate sentences. This bill will be a vital first step toward ensuring that no animal in Rhode Island is ever forced to live out their days under inhumane conditions,” said Rep. Nardolillo.
In April, an Exeter man who’d been found with nearly 100 animals living in unsanitary conditions was convicted of two charges including overwork, mistreatment or failure to feed animals and unnecessary cruelty to animals. He was only fined $200 for his actions, and three dogs were returned to him. He had faced animal abuse allegations in the past, but maintained custody of the animals.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903