The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare voted to pass a bill that would eliminate a loophole that allows people to leave dogs outside in extreme temperatures if they are being trained as hunting dogs.
The new bill extends legal protections to hunting dogs that are exposed to extreme temperatures when kept outside. The bill was created after the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) received several complaints of dogs being kept outside at a Warwick home in December of 2017.
When the RISPCA went to check on those dogs, they determined the owner was not violating state law. RISPCA investigators found that the dogs were in good condition and had access to clean, insulated shelters and water. The complaints focused on the dogs being kept chained up outside in frigid temperatures.
Rep. Patricia Serpa introduced the bill, asking for stricter laws to protect pets from being kept in the cold. The legislation asks Rhode Island to follow the “Tufts Animal Care and Condition Weather Safety Scale.” The standard says certain dogs can handle the cold, but specifically outlines which dogs cannot withstand the cold.
The new law also makes it illegal for dogs who cannot withstand the cold to be outside for more than ten hours at a time.
“We’re actually going to give control and oversight of the law to the local dog officer so that he or she has some discretion in individual circumstances,” Serpa said.
Serpa said the bill will likely move to the house floor Thursday. The bill also still needs to pass the Senate.