Rhode Island Statutes
|Statute by category||Citation||Summary|
|Rhode Island Public Laws 1857-1872: Chapter 912: An act for the prevention of cruelty to animals.||1872 R.I. Pub. Laws 912||
A collection of the laws concerning cruelty to animals from Rhode Island for the years 1857-1872. The act covers such topics as bird fighting, cruelty to animals, enforcement of the act, and procedural issues concerning the act.
|RI - Assistance Animals - Consolidated Assistance Animal Laws||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-4, § 4-13-16.1, § 39-2-13, § 31-18-14 - 16.1, § 34-37-4, § 40-9.1-1 - 1.6; 42-87-3||
The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance/service animal laws.
|RI - Cats - Chapter 22. Cat Identification Program and Chapter 24. Permit Program for Cats||Gen.Laws 1956, § 4-22-1 - 10; § 4-24-1 - 13||
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.
|RI - Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Laws (Chapter 1. Cruelty to Animals)||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-1-1 - 43; Gen.Laws 1956, § 11-10-1||
These Rhode Island statutes comprise the state's anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions. The cruelty law provides that whoever overdrives, overloads, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats, mutilates or kills any animal , is subject to imprisonment up to 11 months, or a fine of $50.00 - $500, or both. The intentional cruelty provision expands the penalty to 2 years possible imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, or both.
|RI - Dangerous Dog - § 4-13.1-9. Penalties for violation--Licensing ordinances and fees||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13.1-9||
This Rhode Island statute provides that a vicious dog may be confiscated by a dog officer and destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner after the expiration of a five day waiting period if an owner does not secure liability insurance, have his or her dog properly identified, or properly enclose/restrain the dog. If any dog declared vicious under § 4-13.1-11, when unprovoked, kills, wounds, or worries or assists in killing or wounding any described animal, the owner shall pay a five hundred fifty dollar fine. The dog officer is empowered to confiscate the dog. The statute further provides that municipalities may enact vicious dog licensing ordinances and provide for impoundment of dogs that violate such ordinances. It also outlines other actions owners of vicious dogs must take, including the posting of vicious dog signs and the maintenance of proper insurance.
|RI - Dogs - Consolidated Dog Laws||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-1 - 44; § 4-13.1 - 15; § 4-19-1 - 21||
These statutes comprise Rhode Island's dog laws. Among the provisions include licensing requirements, which are specified by county or town, vicious dog laws, and euthanasia provisions.
|RI - Dogs at campgrounds, beaches - § 42-17.1-45. No prohibition on pets||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 42-17.1-45||
This law provides that the Department of Environmental Management shall not promulgate or enforce any rule or regulation that would prohibit a pet dog or cat from accompanying its owner or caretaker at any state owned campground.
|RI - Education - § 16-22-20. Animal dissection and vivisection--Right to refuse--Alternate learning project required||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 16-22-20||This Rhode Island law provides that parents or legal guardians of any student in a public or nonpublic primary or secondary school may refuse to allow their child to dissect or vivisect any vertebrate or invertebrate animal, or any part of a vertebrate or invertebrate animal. Students who refuse shall not be discriminated against for not participating in dissection and shall be offered an alternative method of learning the material.|
|RI - Endangered Species - Chapter 37. Endangered Species of Animals and Plants.||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 20-37-1 to 5||
These Rhode Island statutes set out the legislative policy and definitions related to state endangered species law, including the definition of "animal" and what constitutes an "endangered species." By statute commerce is strictly prohibited, as it it illegal to "buy, sell, offer for sale, store, transport, import, export, or otherwise traffic in any animal or plant or any part of any animal or plant whether living, dead, processed, manufactured, preserved, or raw if the animal or plant has been declared to be an endangered species by either the United States secretaries of the interior or commerce or the director of the Rhode Island department of environmental management." Violation of the Act results in fines from $500-5,000 or up to one year imprisonment, or both.
|RI - Equine Activity Liability - Chapter 21. Exemption from Liability Arising from Equine Activities||Gen. Laws, 1956 § 4-21-1 to 4||
This Rhode Island section provides that an equine professional, or any other person, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities unless the equine activity sponsor, professional or other person are demonstrated to have failed to exercise due care under the circumstances towards the participant. Liability is not limited by this statute where the equine professional knowingly provided faulty tack or equipment, failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity, owns or otherwise is in lawful possession of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a known, dangerous latent condition, or if he or she commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant or intentionally injures the participant.
|RI - Exotic Pets - Chapter 18. Importation of Wild Animals||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-18-1 to 15||
This chapter of Rhode Island laws proclaims that its intent is to provide safeguards for the protection of persons in the state from disease hazards associated with imported wild animals. Under the chapter, no person shall import into, receive, or possess in this state without first obtaining a permit from the department, animals of the following orders, families, and genera: primates, carnivores, amphibia, reptilia, canidae, and insecta. Personal pets under a special permit are exempted from the importation permit requirement. A permit may be granted by the department to import a wild animal as a personal pet, if a written affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury is completed at the time of entry at the site of first arrival. This chapter also requires that certain species undergo quarantine for specified periods of time. Any person who violates any provisions of this chapter shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100), and the loss of any specimen referred to in this chapter.
|RI - Farming - Chapter 1.1. Unlawful Confinement of a Covered Animal||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-1.1-1 to 1.1-6||
This Rhode Island chapter of laws was enacted to to prohibit the confinement of calves raised for veal and sows during gestation, subject to exceptions. It becomes effective June 19, 2013.
|RI - Fur - Chapter 16. Fur-Bearing Animals||Gen.Laws 1956, § 20-16-1 to 18||
These laws mandate how fur-bearing mammals may be hunted and trapped, and the issuance of trapping licenses. In order to set traps for fur-bearers, a person must have a trapping license from the department of environmental management. Steel jawed leghold traps are not allowed with some exceptions, A violation may result in a fine and/or imprisonment, and the revocation of the trapping license.
|RI - Humane Slaughter - Chapter 17. Humane Slaughter of Livestock||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-17-1 to 7||
This section comprises Rhode Island's humane slaughter provisions. It begins first by declaring it to be the policy of the state that the slaughter of all livestock and the handling of livestock, in connection with slaughter, be carried out only by humane methods. A "humane method" is defined as a method through which the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut; or a method in accordance with the ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith through which the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred ($500) dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year.
|RI - Hunting - § 20-13-16. Harassment of hunters, trappers, and fishers prohibited||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 20-13-16||
This law reflects Rhode Island's hunter harassment law. The law provides that no person shall obstruct or interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife by another person at the location where the activity is taking place with intent to prevent the lawful taking. The language states that the listed actions must be done intentionally or knowingly. Violation results in a "civil violation" with a forfeiture of not less than $100 nor more $500.
|RI - Hunting, Internet - § 20-1-25. Internet Hunting||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 20-1-25||This statute prohibits internet hunting of any bird or animal within the state of Rhode Island. Violations of this section is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) or imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days, or both.|
|RI - Immunity - § 4-15-15. Veterinarian's emergency treatment of animals--Immunity from liability||Gen.Laws 1956, § 4-15-15||
This Rhode Island statute provides that any licensed veterinarian of this state has the right to treat any animal which has become injured upon any public highway of this state or upon any public or private property of this state which is transported to that veterinarian by any person. If in the veterinarian's opinion the injuries sustained by the animal will result in death, the veterinarian has the right to apply euthanasia to eliminate any unnecessary suffering. Further, any animal treated by the veterinarian not reclaimed within 72 hours may be relinquished to the appropriate animal control facility. A veterinarian incurs no civil liability for actions taken in treating such animals.
|RI - Impound - § 4-13-15. Collaring of dogs--Impoundment and disposition of uncollared dogs||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-15||
This Rhode Island statute provides that every owner of a dog must collar his or her dog around its neck and distinctly marked with its owner's name and its registered number. Interestingly, it states that "any person" may cause any dog not so collared to be impounded in the public pound of the town or city where the dog is found. Further, if the dog is not claimed by its owner within a period of five days after the impoundment, the dog may be disposed of or destroyed. This statute also provides additional specific provisions for the towns of Glocester, West Warwick, and Exeter.
|RI - Lien - § 34-48-1. Lien on animals for their keep--Transfer of abandoned animals||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 34-48-1||
This Rhode Island law states that when an agreement has been made between the owner of any animals regarding the price of keeping, the animals shall be subject to a lien for the price of the keeping in favor of the person keeping the animals. The person may detain the animals until the debt is paid and, if not paid within 30 days, he or she may sell the animals at public auction after giving written notice to the owner of the time and place of the sale at least six days before the sale. Additionally, a kennel, as defined in § 4-19-2, or a veterinary hospital which boards or grooms animals for nonmedical purposes, may transfer any abandoned animal in its custody to a Rhode Island licensed nonprofit animal rescue, animal shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or adoption organization as defined.
|RI - Livestock - Chapter 26. The Rhode Island Livestock Welfare and Care Standards Advisory Board Council Act of 2012||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-26-1 to 6||
This chapter is the Rhode Island Livestock Welfare and Care Standards Advisory Council Act of 2012. The act establishes a livestock care standards advisory council consisting of the state veterinarian, or his or her designee, and six public members. The council reviews and evaluates laws and rules of the state applicable to the care and handling of livestock and issues recommendations.
|RI - Livestock, damage done by - Chapter 14. Damage by Animals||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-14-1 to 20||
This chapter deals with responsibilities and liability for livestock at large. No horse, bull, boar, ram, or goat shall be permitted to run at large and if the owner or keeper of these, for any reason suffers any animals to do so he or she shall upon conviction be fined not in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) and be liable in addition for all damages done by the animal while so at large. The chapter also specifies procedures for impounding animals found at large.
|RI - Ordinances - § 4-13-1. Regulatory ordinances--Enforcement and penalties||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-1||
This Rhode Island statute first provides that city or town councils may make any ordinances concerning dogs in their cities or towns as they deem expedient, to be enforced by the destruction or disposition of the animal, or by pecuniary penalties. It then outlines that specific ordinances that several cities are authorized to enact and what terms must be included.
|RI - Ordinances - § 4-13-1.1. Towns of Portsmouth, West Warwick, and Middletown and city of Woonsocket--Vicious dog ordinance||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-1.1||
This Rhode Island statute provides that the town councils of the towns of Portsmouth, West Warwick and Middletown may, by ordinance, provide that the owner or keeper of any dog that assaults any person shall be fined an amount not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two hundred dollars. The investigation must prove that the dog was off the owner's property or that the assault was the result of owner negligence. It further provides that, in the city of Woonsocket, an owner shall not be declared negligent if an injury is sustained by a person who was committing a trespass or other tort upon the owner's premises or was teasing, tormenting, provoking, abusing or assaulting the dog or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
|RI - Ordinances - § 4-13-15.1. Ordinances concerning unrestricted and vicious dogs prohibited--Leash laws||Gen.Laws 1956, § 4-13-15.1||This Rhode Island statute provides that city or town councils may make any ordinances concerning dogs in their cities or towns as the councils deem expedient, pertaining to the conduct of dogs. The statute outlines specifically what the ordinances may address, including regulations relating to unrestricted dogs, leash laws, confinement, and destruction of vicious dogs. The statute also adds additional provisions relating to the towns of Westerly and Exeter.|
|RI - Ordinances - § 4-13-3. Prior ordinances preserved||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-3||This Rhode Island statute provides that nothing in the state laws concerning dogs shall be construed as to repeal any ordinance concerning dogs, which has been passed by any town or city council.|
|RI - Ordinances - § 4-13-8. Disposition of license fees||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-8||
This Rhode Island statute provides that towns and cities may adopt ordinances or regulations concerning the use of money received for dog licenses.
|RI - Pet Sales - Chapter 25. Pet Warranties--Dogs||Gen.Laws 1956, § 4-25-1 to 10||
This Rhode Island chapter enacted in 2007 created a remedy for purchasers who are sold dogs with disease or hereditary defects. Upon sale, a seller is required to give purchasers a written statement that gives the dog's breed, breeder, license number (if applicable), a record of inoculations, and a record of the dog's veterinary diagnoses and treatments. Both the seller and purchaser must sign and date a written statement from the seller that states that the dog either has not known disease, illness, or hereditary condition that adversely affects its health, or a statement that fully describes the diseases or conditions. A purchaser is entitled to relief from the seller after the purchase of a dog if within twenty (20) days after the purchase of the dog, a licensed veterinarian states in writing that the animal is suffering from or has died from an illness, disease or other defect adversely affecting the animal's health and that this condition existed in the dog on or before delivery to the purchaser, or within two (2) years after the purchase of the animal, a licensed veterinarian states in writing that the animal possesses or has died from a congenital or hereditary condition adversely affecting its health.
|RI - Rabies - § 4-13-29.1. Responsibility for local rabies control||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-29.1||
This Rhode Island statute provides that towns and cities are required to provide for the control of rabies in cats, dogs, and ferrets within its boundaries. The municipality may elect to adopt into ordinance provisions at least as stringent as this chapter.
|RI - Research - Chapter 27. Retirement of Research Dogs and Cats||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-27-1 - 2||This act is known as the “Research Animal Retirement Act.” Under the law, a higher education research facility that receives public money or a facility that provides research in collaboration with a higher education facility shall, after the completion of any testing or research involving a dog or cat, assess the health of the dog or cat and determine whether it is suitable for adoption. The facility must then make reasonable efforts to offer those dogs or cats for adoption through: private placement or through an animal rescue and shelter organization; a duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals; a duly incorporated humane society; or a duly incorporated animal protective association that operates physical animal sheltering facilities and offers household pets to the public for adoption by way of an established adoption program. These efforts shall be made prior to euthanizing the dog or cat.|
|RI - Research - Chapter 27. Retirement of Research Dogs and Cats||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-27-1 - 2||This chapter, adopted in 2018, is the “Research Animal Retirement Act." A higher education research facility that receives public money must assess the health of a cat or dog to determine whether it is suitable for adoption once any testing or research on the animal has been completed. The facility must then make reasonable efforts to place those suitable dogs or cats through private adoption or adoption through a shelter or rescue. These efforts shall be made prior to euthanizing the dog or cat.|
|RI - Restaurant - § 21-27-12. Outdoor dining--Dogs permitted||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 21-27-12||This Rhode Island law, enacted in 2016, states that a restaurant with an outdoor dining area may allow a patron's dog to accompany the patron in the outdoor dining area during the hours designated by the owner of the restaurant. The owner may establish limits on the size and types of dogs in addition to other restrictions. The patron visiting the restaurant must not allow the dog to travel through the indoor space of the restaurant and must keep the dog leashed and supervised at all times. There must be an adult responsible for the behavior of the dog and that person is liable for any damages to the restaurant or other patrons.|
|RI - Rodeo - Chapter 20. Rodeo Animals and Livestock||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-20-1 to 9||
The purpose of this chapter is to establish guidelines and criteria for rodeo and rodeo related activities relative to humane treatment of rodeo animals and rodeo livestock in the state.
|RI - Shark - § 20-1-29. Trade in shark fins||Gen.Laws 1956, § 20-1-29||This Rhode Island law, effective in 2017, prohibits the possession, sale, offering for sale, trading, or distribution of shark fin. “Shark fin” means the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached fin or the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached tail of a shark. Even if a person holds a license to take sharks, he or she must immediately destroy any shark fin separated from the shark unless used by the person for the purposes of taxidermy and subsequent display. Violation incurs a fine or not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 imprisonment of up to 90 days, or both.|
|RI - Spay/Neuter - Chapter 19. Animal Care. § 4-19-18. Penalties for violations||Gen.Laws 1956, § 4-19-18||
This Rhode Island statute provides that violations of § 4-19-16, relating to the mandatory spay/neuter agreement from a licensed releasing agency. Violations of the written agreement executed pursuant to § 4-19-16 by an adopting party are punishable by a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) for the first offense, one hundred fifty dollars ($150) for the second offense and four hundred dollars ($400) for the third and subsequent offenses. Second and subsequent offenses may constitute grounds for seizure and forfeiture of the dog or cat.
|RI - Transportation - § 4-1-7. Live poultry containers||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-1-7||
This Rhode Island statute requires poultry be shipped in sanitary, warm, and ventilated containers.
|RI - Trusts - § 4-23-1. Trust for care of animals||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-23-1||
This law represents the state's pet trust law. The law provides that a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal, or if the trust was created to provided for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime upon the death of the last surviving animal. The statute lists a distribution schedule for any remaining trust property and also states that such trusts are to be liberally construed to carry out the transferor's intent.
|RI - Vehicle - § 31-22-28. Transporting animals||Gen. Laws, 1956, § 31-22-28||This Rhode Island law makes it unlawful for any person to transport any animal, whether for business or pleasure, in an open air motor vehicle unless certain requirements are met: (1) the animal is kept in an enclosed area of the vehicle; (2) the animal is under physical control of a person; or (3) the animal is safely restrained and harnessed by means other than a neck restraint. Violation results in a fine of $50 to $100, with an increase of up to $200 for each subsequent offense.|
|RI - Veterinary - Chapter 25. Veterinary Practice||Gen. Laws, 1956 § 5-25-1 to 17||
These are the state's veterinary practice laws. Among the provisions include licensing requirements, laws concerning the state veterinary board, veterinary records laws, and the laws governing disciplinary actions for impaired or incompetent practitioners.