standing Rhode Island State House

Legislation introduced at the Statehouse this week and co-sponsored by Rep. Samuel Azzinaro, D-Westerly, would create a registry of people convicted in Rhode Island of animal mistreatment, with the intention of preventing them from obtaining new animals.

Under the proposal, introduced in the House by Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence, the registry would be maintained by the Attorney General’s Office and would include all animal abusers who are convicted or plead either guilty or no contest to such charges.

Other sponsors are Reps. John G. Edwards, D-Tiverton; Scott A. Slater, D-Providence; and William W. O’Brien D-North Providence.

"People who have abused animals should not be allowed to own other animals. Pets are utterly defenseless, and allowing those who are known to abuse them to have more of them is subjecting those animals to an almost-certain fate of pain, suffering and perhaps death," Covese said. "This is a common-sense measure to prevent known abusers from having easy access to more likely victims.”

Under the proposal, information on the abuser would be on the registry for 15 years after his or her release from incarceration, or upon conviction if no jail time is served. All convicted animal abusers would have five days from release or conviction to register and pay a one-time $125 fee for the administration and maintenance of the online registry.

The proposal would also require that animal shelters and pet sellers check the registry before selling or allowing the  adoption of any animal or face a fine of up to $1,000.

The legislation is modeled after “Rocky’s Law,” which was enacted in Orange County, N.Y., and named after a Staffordshire Terrier named Rocky whose owner left him outdoors in freezing temperatures without food or water for five weeks while he went on vacation. Rocky had to be euthanized and his owner was arrested.

The sponsors said such legislation would make animal welfare agencies, shelters and pet stores partners with the state in helping to prevent abuse.

— Jason Vallee

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