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6/23/2022 Assembly approves President Ruggerio and Rep. O’Brien’s bill to hold owners of abused animals responsible
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and Rep. William W. O’Brien to establish new requirements for the provision of care to abused animals.

The legislation (2022-S 2443Aaa, 2022-H 8303) establishes a procedure for the owner or guardian of an animal in the custody of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) to pay reasonable expenses for the animal’s care, including shelter and food.

If the owner or guardian neither provides payment nor petitions the District Court for the return of the animal within a set timeframe, the animal may be forfeited to the RISPCA through a court petition.

“Pets deserve protection from cruelty and abuse, and people who engage in such deplorable behavior should be held accountable for their actions. That includes providing for the care of animals that have suffered due to their negligence or mistreatment – and, if they fail to meet their obligations, surrendering their ownership rights.  I’m thankful to my colleagues for supporting this legislation, and I’m proud of our work together to advance numerous animal protection bills during my time in the General Assembly,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

“Abusers of defenseless animals are reprehensible and if they are unable to provide for their pets, they do not deserve to have the animal in their care.  I am thankful for the incredible work and care that the RISPCA provides for our abused animals and this bill will help them protect even more poor animals that have been abused.  I am also proud that the state has made great strides over the past few years to protect our pets and wildlife from the malicious abuse that is sadly still too prevalent.  Rhode Island is ranked as one of the top-five states in the country for animal protection and we are continuing this progress every legislative session,” said Representative O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903