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Rhode Island
Anti-Cruelty Statutes


§ 4-1-2. Overwork, mistreatment, or failure to feed animals -- Shelter defined

(a) Whoever overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly beats, mutilates or cruelly kills, or causes or procures to be so overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, cruelly beaten, mutilated or cruelly killed, any animal, and whoever, having the charge or custody of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, inflicts cruelty upon that animal, or willfully fails to provide that animal with proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather, shall, for each offense, be imprisoned not exceeding eleven (11) months, or be fined not less than fifty dollars ($ 50.00) nor exceeding five hundred dollars ($ 500), or both.

(b) Every owner, possessor, or person having charge of any animal may upon conviction of a violation of this section be ordered to forfeit all rights to ownership of the animal to the animal control officer of the city or town in which the offense occurred or to a humane society which owns and operates the shelter which provided the subject animal shelter subsequent to any confiscation of said animal pursuant to this section.

(c) Shelters means a structure used to house any animal which will provide sufficient protection from inclement elements for the health and well being of the animal.

§ 4-1-3. Unnecessary cruelty

(a) Every owner, possessor, or person having the charge or custody of any animal, who cruelly drives or works that animal when unfit for labor, or cruelly abandons that animal, or who carries that animal, or causes that animal to be carried, in or upon any vehicle or otherwise in a cruel or inhuman manner, or willfully authorizes or permits that animal to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering or cruelty of any kind, or who places or causes to have placed on any animal any substance that may produce irritation or pain, or that is declared a hazardous substance by the U.S. food and drug administration or by the state department of health, shall be punished for each offense in the manner provided in § 4-1-2.

(b) The substances proscribed by subsection (a) do not include any drug having curative and therapeutic effect for disease in animals and which is prepared and intended for veterinary use.

§ 4-1-5. Malicious injury to or killing of animals

(a) Every person who cuts out the tongue or otherwise dismembers any animal, maliciously, or maliciously kills or wounds any animal, or maliciously administers poison to or exposes any poisonous substance with intent that the poison shall be taken or swallowed by any animal, or who maliciously exposes poisoned meat with intent that the poison meat is taken or swallowed by any wild animal, shall be imprisoned not exceeding two (2) years or be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($ 1,000), and shall, in the case of any animal of another, be liable to the owner of this animal for triple damages, to be recovered by civil action. In addition, any person convicted under this section is required to serve ten (10) hours of community restitution. The community restitution penalty shall not be suspended or deferred and is mandatory.

(b) This section shall not apply to licensed hunters during hunting season or a licensed business killing animals for human consumption.

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