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Rhode Island

West's General Laws of Rhode Island Annotated. Title 4. Animals and Animal Husbandry. Chapter 22. Cat Identification Program; Chapter 24. Permit Program for Cats

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: Gen.Laws 1956, 4-22-1 - 10; 4-24-1 - 13

Citation: RI ST 4-22-1 - 10; 4-24-1 - 13


Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 12/2013

Summary:   These Rhode Island section is entitled the "Cat Identification Program."  Under this law, cats are required to display some form of identification (tag, tattoo, etc.) in an effort to reduce the feral/stray cat problem.  The law reduces the retention period for cats impounded without some form of identification.


Statute in Full:

CHAPTER 22. CAT IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM

 § 4-22-1. Findings and purpose

 § 4-22-2. Definitions

 § 4-22-3. Required Cat Identification

 § 4-22-4. Removal of Cat Identification

 § 4-22-5. Holding At-Large or Impounded Cats

 § 4-22-6. Enforcement

 § 4-22-7. Violations

 § 4-22-8. Authorization to impound cats

 § 4-22-9. Adoption of Municipal Ordinance

 § 4-22-10. Use of the terms owner or guardian


CHAPTER 24. PERMIT PROGRAM FOR CATS

 § 4-24-1. Short title

 § 4-24-2. Legislative findings

 § 4-24-3. Spaying and neutering

 § 4-24-4. Breeding permits

 § 4-24-5. Sale or adoption of cats

 § 4-24-6. Revocation of permit

 § 4-24-7. Farmland exemption

 § 4-24-8. Abandonment of cats

 § 4-24-9. Canine surcharge

 § 4-24-10. Penalty for violation

 § 4-24-11. Responsibility for enforcement

 § 4-24-12. Time for compliance

 § 4-24-13. Low-cost spay/neuter accounts

 

 

§ 4-22-1  Findings and purpose.

The state finds that a cat identification program, which would require an owner of a cat to maintain an identification for the cat, would serve the following public purposes:

   (1) Cat identification would provide cats protection under the law, equal to that afforded dogs, by establishing ownership which, in turn, would encourage cat owners to take full responsibility for their pets' welfare.

   (2) Cat identification would protect cats, as dogs are now protected, by establishing minimum holding periods for cats released to and/or impounded by municipal animal control facilities and private animal shelters.

   (3) A program to require cat identification should facilitate the return of lost, owned cats.

   (4) Cat identification would provide a method to help distinguish between owned and unowned cat populations thus assisting animal control officers and animal shelters in carrying out their mission.

   (5) Cat identification would advance the reduction of the untold suffering of cats at-large in our state by helping to insure the quick return of injured and sick animals to their owners.

   (6) Passage of this bill would reduce the number of unowned cats and increase education to owners as to the need for sterilization of cats, thereby reducing unwanted litters, eliminating cat over-population problems, and reducing the costs to cities and towns for euthanizing at-large or unowned cats.

   (7) Cat identification would help support public health and safety in the control of rabies.

   The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to establish a cat identification program, which would require that an owner of a cat maintain an identification for the cat. These measures will also reduce the spread of rabies. 

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-2  Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter:

   (a) "At-large" means: (1) On the premises of a person other than an owner of the cat, without the consent of an occupant or owner of such premises, or (2) on a public street or highway, on public or private school grounds, or in any other public place, except when under the physical control of an owner.

   (b) "Roaming cat" means any homeless socialized cat or any stray socialized cat.

   (c) "Feral cat" means any wild, unsocialized or untamed cat.

   (d) "Identification" means: a traceable form of identification such as (1) a collar and a flat or hanging tag worn by a cat which includes the current name, address and telephone number of the owner, or (2) a rabies vaccination tax, or (3) an ear tag issued by a licensed veterinarian or by a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound, or (4) a registered microchip which is used in conjunction with a visible collar and tag or in conjunction with a faceted, reflective ear stud, or (5) a tag from a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound, or (6) a tattoo registered with the National Dog Registry or other similar national tattoo service, or (7) a cat license issued by a Rhode Island city or town, or (8) a collar incorporating embroidery as a type of information labeling rather than a hanging or flat tag or (9) in the case of feral cats, a tipped or notched ear in conjunction with a microchip or any of the above other forms of identification. The intent is to allow flexibility in the types of identification available for cats and to incorporate other types of cat identification in the future as they are developed.

   (e) "Impounded cat" means any cat released to or under the custody of or control of a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound.

   (f) "Owner" means (1) any person who keeps, has permanent custody, owns, maintains, harbors, provides care or sustenance for, has control or charge of or responsibility for a cat or who permits a cat to habitually be or remain on or be lodged or fed within such person's property or premises, and (2) any refusal to permit any animal control officer to impound such cat shall be deemed evidence of ownership unless ownership of the cat by another party is established.

   (g) "Person" means an individual, firm, jointstock company, partnership, association, private, or municipal corporation, state, commission, political subdivision, a state, any interstate body or the federal government or any agency or subdivision thereof.

   (h) "Guardian" shall mean a person(s) having the same rights and responsibilities of an owner, and both terms shall be used interchangeably. A guardian shall also mean a person who possesses, has title to or an interest in, harbors or has control, custody or possession of an animal and who is responsible for an animal's safety and well being.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 72, § 12.

 

§ 4-22-3  Required Cat Identification.

It shall be unlawful for any person to be an owner of a cat over three months of age unless the person maintains an identification worn by the cat at all times.

   The identification provisions in this law are not applicable to the following:

   (a) A cat brought into the state exclusively for the purpose of entering them in a cat show or cat exhibition or for breeding purposes and which does not remain in this state for more than fifteen (15) days and which is not allowed to be at large.

   (b) A cat owned by any person who is not a resident of the state and is traveling through the state temporarily and for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.

   (c) A cat temporarily kept by a licensed veterinarian, a licensed kennel, or a licensed animal shelter or a licensed municipal pound who maintain on their premises cats owned by others.

   (d) A cat temporarily kept by owners of a licensed pet shop for purposes of sale or by a licensed animal shelter or a licensed municipal pound for purposes of adoption.

   (e) A cat kept exclusively indoors or confined in outdoor areas and maintained for pedigreed cat breeding and stud purposes.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-4  Removal of Cat Identification.

It shall be unlawful for any person other than an animal control officer, a licensed veterinarian, an employee of a licensed animal shelter, an employee of a licensed municipal pound, or a person authorized by an animal control officer to remove any identification from any cat not owned by the person.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-5  Holding At-Large or Impounded Cats.

(a) In the case of any at-large or roaming or feral cat released to or impounded in a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound wearing any form of identification specified in the definitions section the animal shelter or pound shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner by telephone, or by sending written notice to the owner. The at-large or roaming or feral cat shall be held by the animal shelter or pound for not less than five days, after which time the animal shelter or pound may offer the cat for adoption, sale or otherwise dispose of the cat, if not sooner recovered by the owner. The five days shall not include any day or part thereof that the public pound or animal shelter is not open for a specified period of time, not to be less than one-half the normal hours of business. An owner wishing to recover the cat shall pay the reasonable and customary daily impoundment fees and other associated fees for each full day, or fraction thereof, that the cat is held by the animal shelter or pound. The provisions of this section relating to the five (5) day holding period shall not be deemed to apply to any cat which, impounded hereunder, was injured or maimed, and after the cat has been examined by a licensed veterinarian who shall confirm, in writing, that the cat be destroyed for humanitarian purposes.

   (b) In the case of any at-large or roaming or feral cat released to or impounded in a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound not wearing any form of identification as specified in the definitions section, the animal shelter or pound shall hold the at-large or roaming or feral cat for not less than two (2) days, after which time the animal shelter or pound may offer the cat for adoption, sale or otherwise dispose of the cat, if not sooner recovered by a person claiming ownership. The two (2) days shall not include any day or part thereof that the public pound or animal shelter is not open for a specified period of time, not to be less than one-half the normal hours of business. The owner or keeper of any cat so impounded shall pay the reasonable and customary daily impoundment fees and other associated fees for each full day, or fraction thereof, that the cat is held at the animal shelter or pound. The provisions of this section relating to the two (2) day holding period shall not be deemed to apply to any cat which, impounded hereunder, was injured or maimed, and after the cat has been examined by a licensed veterinarian who shall confirm, in writing, that the cat be destroyed for humanitarian purposes.

   (c) If an at-large or roaming or feral cat without identification released to or impounded in a licensed animal shelter or a licensed municipal pound is dangerous and presents a danger to the safety of shelter personnel, the cat may be euthanized prior to the expiration of its holding period at the discretion of an animal control officer, a licensed veterinarian or the shelter management.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-6  Enforcement.

An impounded at-large, roaming, or feral cat not wearing any identification may not be released to the owner of the cat until the owner complies with the identification requirements of this article.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-7  Violations.

Any animal control officer, and his agents, may issue to any person in violation of this section a notice of violation. Persons who violate any provision of this section shall be subject to a fine as defined under § 4-13-1 per violation per animal. Each and every incidence which goes unremedied for thirty (30) days after written notice of violation hereunder shall constitute a subsequent offense and subsequent fines will apply.

   All fines collected under this section will be remitted to the town clerk or city clerk of the municipality where the violation was issued. Such fines shall be used by the municipality only for enforcing animal control laws or ordinances or for programs to house and care for cats.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-8  Authorization to impound cats.

Animal control officers and their agents are authorized and empowered to impound any roaming or feral cat at-large and to dispose of the same pursuant to the provisions of § 4-19-12. Licensed animal shelters are authorized to accept any roaming or feral cat released to them for impoundment and to dispose of the same pursuant to the provisions of § 4-19-12.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-9  Adoption of Municipal Ordinance.

No provision of this chapter shall prohibit any city or town from adopting any provision of this chapter as a municipal ordinance.

P.L. 1999, ch. 291, § 1.

 

§ 4-22-10  Use of the terms owner or guardian.

Wherever the word "owner" shall appear in this chapter it shall also mean and may be interchanged with the word "guardian" as defined in § 4-22-2.

P.L. 2001, ch. 72, § 13.

 

Chapter 24. Permit Program for Cats

 

§ 4-24-1. Short title


This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Rhode Island Permit Program for Cats.”

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-2. Legislative findings

The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(1) An unacceptable number of healthy, but abandoned cats are euthanized annually in Rhode Island.

(2) Due to the large number of stray and abandoned cats, euthanasia is not a cost effective, acceptable or ethical solution to the threats to public health and safety posed by large populations of stray, feral or homeless cats.

(3) Stray and abandoned pets, specifically cats, create numerous public health and safety problems, including transmission of disease and traffic hazards created by cats running loose on public streets.

(4) A permit system for breeding of cats owned or harbored in the state, combined with a program for spaying/neutering, is a reasonable and effective means of reducing the population of abandoned or stray cats, and for eliminating the practice of euthanizing homeless cats, except those for whom euthanasia is an escape from suffering or necessary to protect people and/or other animals from vicious behavior.

The general assembly therefor finds and declares that it intends to provide for the public health, safety and welfare through a program requiring spaying and neutering cats unless appropriate permits are acquired. The provisions of this chapter shall be in addition to the cat registration or identifying program requirements set forth in this title.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.

 

§ 4-24-3. Spaying and neutering

(a) No person, as defined by § 4-19-2, shall own or harbor, within the state, any cat over the age of six (6) months which has not been spayed or neutered, unless such person has adopted a cat from a licensed releasing agency as defined by § 4-19-2 and is subject to the spaying and neutering requirements of § 4-19-16 or holds either a license to keep an unaltered cat, or a license and permit for breeding cats issued by the animal control officer for the city or town in which they live, or unless the caretaker states that, due to age, health or illness it would be inappropriate to spay or neuter the cat and having in their possession a letter from a licensed veterinarian stating such, which shall be provided to the animal control officer.

(b) An “intact” permit shall be issued for an unaltered cat if the owner signs a written statement that such animal will not be allowed to breed unless the owner has first obtained a breeding permit. An “intact” permit may be issued by the animal control officer to an individual who refuses to spay or neuter their cat. The fee for such a permit shall be one hundred dollars ($100) per year. All funds from “intact” permits shall be deposited in the city or town's spay/neuter account.

(c) Any person providing care or sustenance for an uninterrupted period of sixty (60) days or longer shall be deemed the owner of such animal and shall adhere to the provisions of this chapter. Provided, further, that cities and towns may, by ordinance, require a permit of persons who provide care or sustenance for colony(s) of feral cats.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.

 

§ 4-24-4. Breeding permits

(a) No person shall cause or allow any cat owned or harbored in the city or town in which they live to breed without first obtaining a breeding permit under this section.

(b) Each city or town animal control officer shall administer a permit program to allow the breeding of cats consistent with criteria and according to procedures contained in the city or town ordinances; provided, however, that where city's or town's have ordinances, specifically prohibiting the breeding of cats it shall be the city's or town's ordinances that shall govern with respect to that subsection or provision only.

(c) Each applicant who is issued a permit to breed cats under this section shall pay an annual breeding permit fee of one hundred dollars ($100) per cat.

(d) No person shall cause or allow the breeding of a male or female cat without first obtaining a breeding permit issued by the animal control officer. Breeding permits shall be valid for twelve (12) months, renewable on an annual basis for a fee of one hundred dollars ($100) per cat. Herein, all breeding permits shall contain the following terms and conditions and be subject to all of the following requirements:

(1) No offspring may be sold or adopted and permanently placed until reaching an age of at least eight (8) weeks;

(2) No offspring may be sold or adopted until immunized against common diseases as determined by the director of environmental management in accordance with chapter 4 of this title to be contagious or injurious to public health or to the health of other animals;

(3) Any permit holder advertising to the public the availability of any animal for adoption or sale must prominently display the permit number in any publications in which they advertise. The permit number must be provided to any person adopting or purchasing any animal bred by the permit holder; and

(4) The breeding permit holder shall adhere to minimum standards regarding the care and keeping of animals pursuant to chapter 19 of this title.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-5. Sale or adoption of cats

(a) Any person or licensed business who provides or offers to the public, whether or not for compensation, any pet or pet related goods, where they are the primary products, or pet services shall provide to their clients, at no charge, information relating to pet care and ownership, including information on city and town laws pertaining to animal control.

(b) Any person offering cats for sale or adoption shall disclose to any purchaser or adoptive owner, information regarding the licensing or permit requirements of the city or town in which they reside applicable to the animal.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-6. Revocation of permit

(a) Any permit issued may be revoked if the animal control officer has reasonable cause to believe any of the following to be true:

(1) The permittee has violated the provisions of chapter 19 of this title or any other state or local ordinances relating to the keeping, care or use of any animal;

(2) The permittee is in violation of any state health or safety law or regulation regarding animal care or control;

(3) The permittee has failed to comply with any condition or requirement of the permit or has failed to pay any fee imposed under this section;

(4) The permittee refuses to allow inspection, upon forty-eight (48) hours of written notice, of any cat covered by the permit or the premises on which the animal is kept; or

(5) The permittee has transferred, sold or otherwise disposed of the cat for which the permit was issued.

(b) If, after investigation, the animal control officer concludes that it is probable that one or more of the above grounds for revocation has occurred, he or she shall cause written notice thereof to be transmitted by mail to the address of the permittee. The notice shall specify the grounds of possible revocation of the permit, and shall specify a date and time for an informal hearing to be held before the animal control officer. The date shall be not less than five (5) days subsequent to the date the notice is mailed. After the informal hearing, the animal control officer may modify the terms of the permit or revoke the permit. Provided, further, that if the health or well-being of the animal is in danger the animal control officer of that city or town may take custody and control of the animal until such time that a hearing is conducted pursuant to this subsection.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-7. Farmland exemption

Farmland defined as any tract or tracts of land, including woodland and wasteland constituting a farm unit which is actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use including, but not limited to: forages and sod crops; grains and feed crops; fruits and vegetables; poultry, dairy, and other livestock and their products; nursery, floral and greenhouse products; and any other food or fiber products useful to people; shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-8. Abandonment of cats

If any cat is abandoned by their owner or any person having charge or custody of that cat, that person shall, for each offense be punished in the manner provided in § 4-1-2.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-9. Canine surcharge

(a) Each city and town is required to collect a one dollar ($1.00) surcharge on each dog license issued by the municipality. The revenue generated by this surcharge shall be deposited in the respective city's and town's spay/neuter account to fund low-cost spay/neuter programs.

(b) Any remaining revenue collected pursuant to this section which is unused during any calendar year shall remain in said city or towns spay/neuter account for use during the following year.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.

 

§ 4-24-10. Penalty for violation

Any person who violates the permit provisions of this chapter shall have no more than thirty (30) days to have their cat spayed or neutered or provide proof from a licensed veterinarian indicating that arrangements have been made to spay or neuter their cat(s). The animal control officer shall inform persons subject to this law to the availability of reduced cost or free spay/neuter programs available for low income persons and any programs sponsored by local humane organizations offering low cost spaying or neutering. If an animal is not spayed or neutered within thirty (30) days of the notice, he or she shall be subject to a seventy-five dollar ($75.00) fine for each thirty (30) days the animal is not spayed or neutered. Funds generated pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the spay/neuter account of the city or town where the violation occurred to be used to fund low-cost spay/neuter programs in accordance with § 4-24-13.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-11. Responsibility for enforcement

The local animal control officer shall be responsible for the enforcement and administration of this chapter.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-12. Time for compliance

Persons harboring a cat subject to this chapter on the effective date thereof [June 9, 2006] shall be given one hundred twenty (120) days from the date to comply with the provisions thereof.

CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 

§ 4-24-13. Low-cost spay/neuter accounts

(a) All revenue generated pursuant to §§ 4-24-9 and 4-24-10 shall be deposited in the respective city and towns spay/neuter accounts. Said funds shall be divided equally with fifty percent (50%) of which to be reserved for the exclusive use of funding a low-cost spay/neuter program for the animals of persons who qualify for one of the following public assistance programs or any other public assistance program as determined by the city or towns animal control officer:

(1) Any program which qualifies as public assistance pursuant to chapter 6 of title 40;

(2) The food stamp program authorized by Title XIII of the federal Food and Agriculture Act of 1977, 7 USC § 2011 et seq.;

(3) The supplemental security income program authorized by Title XVI of the federal Social Security Act, 42 USC § 1381 et seq.;

(4) The federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Act authorized by 42 USC § 601 et seq.; or

(5) The Medicaid program authorized by Title IX of the federal Social Security Act, 42 USC 1381.

Persons who are eligible for any of the aforementioned programs must provide proof that he or she is an eligible person to the animal control officer of that city or town to qualify for the low-cost spay/neuter provisions of this section.

(b) All remaining funds shall be deposited in the respective city or towns spay/neuter account to fund the spaying and neutering of animals currently residing in the city or towns pound and to fund low-cost spay/neuter programs.


CREDIT(S)

P.L. 2006, ch. 59, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006; P.L. 2006, ch. 63, § 1, eff. June 9, 2006.


 



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