The RISPCA has been an advocate for the well being of all creatures great and small since 1870. One of our mission objectives is to protect the safety of all animals in our state. As the only humane society in the state of RI with state wide animal cruelty investigative powers we see much of what others do not. This has enabled us to work closely with elected officials in drafting animal cruelty laws.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), The premiere legal organization for animals, released its 11th Annual year-end report (2016) ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states. Rhode Island has been ranked as the 5th BEST STATE in 2016 with animal protection laws in the United States. Last year we were ranked 7th. This is an honor all of us should be very proud of. Much credit goes to the citizens of RI whose voices were heard by elected officials who took action.

As quoted in the ALDF report,” Rhode Island broke into the “Best Five” in 2016, in part, by passing a new felony animal cruelty provision for first time offenders, triggered when cruelty results in the animal’s death, and increasing penalties for malicious injury to an animal.” This was the result of the Moses case where over 13,000 signatures were gathered in favor of the bill drafted by the RISPCA and introduced by Rep. Pat Serpa and her colleagues. Your voices spoke for those who cannot speak.

Rhode Island Animal Cruelty Legislation

Title 4 of Rhode Island General Law covers laws relating to animal husbandry and animal cruelty. Laws pertaining to animal cruelty can be found here.

RIGL 4-13-42 is a more recent addition to our animal cruelty laws.  Under 4-13-42 it is now a crime to tether a dog on a choke-type collar and further requires the length of the tether to be a minimum of 6 feet long.  Additionally this statute makes it a crime to tether a dog for more than 10 hours in a  period or keep a dog caged, penned or fenced for more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period.  You can refer to the statute for more details.

A recent amendment to RIGL 4-1-3 now establishes “adequate living conditions” for all animals with the exemption of livestock.  Animals must now legally be provided with a space that is dry and free of accumulated feces and hazardous debris, as well as being sufficient in size so as not to inhibit comfortable, normal posture or range of movement. RIGL 4-1-1 more specifically defines “adequate living conditions”.

Hot Car Legislation

Legislation was just passed prohibiting leaving an animal in a hot (or extremely cold) car. This legislation is long-awaited and very welcome, after we have seen so many tragic results of dogs left in hot cars.  It includes the following language:

“4-1-3.2. Animal confinement in motor vehicles prohibited. – (a) No owner or person shall confine any animal in a motor vehicle which is done in a manner that places the animal in a life threatening or extreme health threatening situation by exposing it to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold. In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, an animal control officer, law enforcement officer or fire fighter who has probable cause to believe that this section is being violated shall have the authority to enter such motor vehicle by any reasonable means necessary under the circumstances, after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other responsible person.”