Bill makes animal abusers financially responsible

When you hear about local animal abuse cases, the animals often end up at the Rhode Island SPCA shelter.

The animal welfare agency takes custody of animals that it claims are victims of neglect or abuse.

Caring for that animal comes with a price tag.

The Rhode Island Senate has now passed a measure aimed at easing the financial burden.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), tells NBC10, "The person who's actually been cruel to the animal should pay for it."

Archambault is proposing a measure to make animal owners who are convicted or plea to abuse charges pay for the cost to house the animal after it's been confiscated. "This bill would address an area that is lacking in the law, which is the cost of care for the animals that are in the custody of the DEM or Rhode Island SPCA," he said.

Dr. E.J. Finocchio, head of the Rhode Island SPCA, tells NBC10 it costs about $375 a month to take care of a dog it takes in, and about $800 a month for a horse.

And those costs are just the basics. It's more if the animal is hurt or has medical problems.

And the dollars can add up, well into the thousands. Finocchio says in abuse cases, the SPCA often has the animal for quite a while - 6, 8, 10 months - as the case goes to court.

The proposal is now in the hands of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

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