Official Statement from Rhode Island SPCA, Riverside, RI:
Today, 12/20/17, the Rhode Island SPCA responded to 409 Tollgate Road, in Warwick, in response to several complaints received regarding a number of dogs allegedly being mistreated and neglected. The complaints alleged there were upwards of 15 dogs on the premise, being left outdoors with inadequate shelter, and therefore exposed to the inclement elements. There were also allegations that these dogs were being illegally bred and used for illegal dogfighting.
The RISPCA was accompanied by two Animal Control Officers from the City of Warwick and two Warwick Police Officers. The results of our investigation are as follows:
We observed six adult Pitbull-type dogs, all of which were found to be in good body condition and having access to clean, fresh potable water. Each dog was individually tethered on a chain that was approximately 10-15 feet in length. Each dog had access to individual shelters that were constructed of wood. The shelters had double insulated walls, and two separate compartments filled with straw. These shelters were found to provide sufficient protection from the elements, including rain, snow, and wind. Upon closer examination of each dog, there were no visible signs that the elements were having any detrimental effects on their health or well-being. There were also no signs of scaring or injuries indicating these dogs were engaged in any form of fighting.
Rhode Island General Laws pertaining to animal cruelty require that dogs have access to proper food, water, and shelter and be free from unnecessary suffering or cruelty (RIGL 4-1-2, 4-1-3). As stated, all dogs were found to be in good body condition, indicating they were adequately fed, as well as having access to water and shelter. There were also no visible signs these dogs were suffering in any manner. Rhode Island General Law also prevents dogs from being tethered more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period (RIGL 4-13-42). Under this particular statute, however, there are a number of exemptions. One of those exemptions is for any person, “raising or training a gun dog or hunting dog…….provided they are actively engaged in hunting, training…” There was sufficient evidence provided that these dogs are being raised for hunting, and therefore, exempt from the provision of RIGL 4-13-42.
According to the City of Warwick, the owner is also permitted to have six dogs on the premise and documentation was provided that all dogs are up to date on their legally mandated rabies vaccinations.
The RISPCA found no evidence of animal cruelty or neglect or any other violations of Rhode Island Law pertaining to animal cruelty. The owner was compliant in granting access to his property for inspection and also demonstrated a genuine concern for the health and well-being of his animals.
The Rhode Island SPCA would like to make it clear, that we do not condone this method of housing dogs, nor do we condone training dogs for hog hunting or similar activities in which animals are placed in harm’s way. however, it is our duty to enforce the laws as they are written. As members of the general public, if you are not satisfied with the laws, we encourage you to contact your local Senators and Representatives and take an active role in making changes to improve the animal welfare laws in our State.
The RISPCA spends countless hours at the Statehouse every year, fighting to improve the laws as they pertain to animal welfare. We recognize there is always room for improvement, but we are proud to say that RI is ranked 5th in the nation in animal welfare laws but the Animal Legal Defense Fund.