A controversial dog breeder whose Warwick operation prompted protests and years of complaints is being evicted after city officials found numerous code violations.
According to documents obtained by Eyewitness News, breeder Clifford Dennis is scheduled to have all dogs removed from the property at 409 Toll Gate Road by April 16. The documents reveal years of police reports chronicling complaints about the dogs dating back to 2001. Dennis said the dogs were being bred for hunting, and the RISPCA said he was operating legally, housing the dogs within the parameters required for hunting dogs.
According to the city, when Dennis is evicted in mid-April, he will also forfeit his municipal breeder’s permit.
Anita Pimental joined a group of protesters across the street from Dennis’ Warwick breeding operation earlier this year. She said she dug through city records and found Dennis was violating a zoning ordinance: operating a kennel in an office area without acquiring a special use permit. She took her findings to the city. Now, the city said they’ve reached an agreement with the lawyer for the property’s owner, Edward Allen, which will see the premises vacated and an old, abandoned farmhouse torn down. We reached out to Allen’s attorney for comment, but he declined.
“I am happy that I’m responsible for him getting off of that property on April 15,” Pimental said. “But it should have been done a lot sooner.”
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian believes the organized protests played a role in getting the land owner to agree to the current terms.
“I know there was a lot of energy expended by people who wanted to make sure they were standing up for the animals,” Avedisian said.
Police reports chronicle contact with Dennis dating back to October 2001, when officers found 21 dogs “tied to various location around a wooded area” and nine puppies. Animal control officers found empty food and water bowls and took the puppies for safekeeping. There were also complaints made in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014-2017, according to reports.
According to a report from 2010, animal control officers went to the property following a December blizzard that dumped a foot of snow on the ground. They found pit bulls chained to the ground in dog houses surrounded by 12 inches of snow. The report said the dogs didn’t have food or water. Dennis faced multiple charges at the time.
“It’s a long history of animal charges on the property,” Avedisian said. “I think we’re all thankful that come April 15 we won’t have that problem anymore.”
A knock on Clifford Dennis’ home address went unanswered. It’s unclear what he did with the dogs or if he plans to continue his breeding operation elsewhere.
“He’s been doing this for years and he tried to figure out these loopholes,” Pimental said. “Honestly, in my own personal opinion, I don’t think this will stop him. Because it hasn’t stopped him in the past.”