Rhode Island Passes “First Strike & You’re Out” Law

Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on July 1, 2011

Convicted abusers may now be kept from owning or residing with animals for up to 15 years

Rhode Island will soon have an important new tool for combating animal abuse. On June 29, 2011 the Rhode Island General Assembly gave final passage to HB 5522. Once it is signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee, courts in the state will finally have the authority to prohibit animal abusers from owning or residing with any animals for up to five years following a misdemeanor conviction, and for as many as fifteen years in felony cases. Those who violate these sentencing restrictions will face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to one year imprisonment, a fine, and forfeiture of the animals.

Rhode Island’s new "First Strike & You’re Out" Law will be a huge asset in the fight against animal neglect, cruelty and fighting. Keeping convicted abusers away from potential new animal victims will help stem the high rate of recidivism often associated with these crimes, an issue which is especially problematic in cases of animal hoarding. The new law will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities – hoarding cases in particular are very costly, often requiring the cooperation of several local agencies.

ALDF Legislative Affairs assisted with the legislation – the new law will take effect upon signing.

2 thoughts on “Rhode Island Passes “First Strike & You’re Out” Law

  1. Sara says:

    Thank you so much for bring this issue to our attention.

    I’m a researcher for the series Confessions: Animal Hoarding, currently airing on Animal Planet that tells the stories of people overwhelmed by the number of pets they own. The problem is on the rise and affect communities across America.

    If you are concerned about the health of animals in someone’s care and suspect they may be hoarding them, we might be able to help.

    Most animal hoarders don’t see themselves as hoarders, and sometimes don’t intentionally collect animals. Their relationship with their animals has threatened their relationships with friends and family.

    Most of these situations aren’t dealt with until they become criminal. This results in animals being euthanized by over-stressed shelters, and doesn’t address the underlying psychological issues – meaning nearly 100% of people end up in the same situation again.

    We are dedicated to finding comprehensive long-term solutions and believe therapy to be key to this. We can bring in experts to help people and their pets.

    If you or someone you know needs help because animals have overrun their life, visit http://www.animalhoardingproject.com to learn more and submit their story. Alternatively, contact me directly at help@animalhoardingproject.com or toll-free at
    1 -877-698-7387.

    We will treat all submissions with confidentiality and respect.

  2. Caroline Pavlinik says:

    Kudos to Rhode Island Legislative Leadership! We animal welfare advocates in Idaho are currently in the midst of gathering 60,000 signatures by April of 2012 to put an animal felony cruelty option on the ballot to make animal torture a first offense felony and the third conviction of animal cruelty and beyond a felony. Currently, all crimes against animals here are blanket misdemeanors. It is shameful that Idaho, North and South Dakota or the three states left in the nation without animal felony laws.
    It gives me hope to see that other states are strengthening their animal welfare laws; I am confident Idahoans will as well in 2012!

    Caroline Pavlinik

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