Animal advocates call for stronger penalties for abusers


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A small group of protestors gathered outside Providence Superior Court Tuesday to demand stiffer penalties for animal abusers.

“The laws are in place, it’s just a matter of the judges have to do their jobs and help us out,” said Anita Pimental, who was joined by approximately a dozen other protestors.

“We have the laws, now let’s enforce them,” added Marisa Grilli.

The protest came after Eugene McQuade was allowed to reclaim nine of his 11 dogs which were seized by police earlier this year. McQuade was arrested in January after Rhode Island State Police found several of McQuade’s dogs living in squalid conditions, three in Exeter and eight in Coventry. A photo from state police provided to Eyewitness News shows one of McQuade’s dogs with a bloodied face. 

According to court documents, McQuade pleaded no contest to one charge of failing to provide adequate shelter to a dog and agreed to pay more than $6,000 in restitution to the Exeter and Coventry animal shelters. In turn, 24 other counts of animal mistreatment and cruelty were dropped and McQuade was allowed to collect all but two of his dogs.

Superior Court Justice Sarah Taft-Carter accepted the plea deal last week. On Tuesday a court spokesman declined comment, saying only “the court’s decisions speak for themselves.”

McQuade has faced animal-related charges before. Those charges were also dismissed. 

Protestors said they believe Rhode Island’s animal cruelty laws are sufficient but are not being fully enforced. They hope their activism sparks change. 

“We done lying down and taking the backseat for these animals that can’t speak for themselves,” said Grilli. “And we want to make some changes.”

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