New law in RI aims to place abandoned animals more quickly

New law in RI aims to place abandoned animals more quickly.

A new law in Rhode Island is aimed at placing abandoned animals in adoptive homes more quickly.

The bill, passed during the special September session of the general assembly, amends an animal abandonment statute to read, “Any pound or animal shelter as defined under §4-19-2, shall deem abandoned any animal impounded and not redeemed by its owner within ten (10) days of impoundment if such animal is wearing identification.

Any animal impounded and not wearing identification shall be deemed abandoned if not redeemed by its owner within five (5) days of impoundment.

Any animal deemed abandoned shall become the property of the impounding agency and may be adopted.”

The bill’s sponsor in the House, Deputy Majority Leader William O’Brien, says the law elevates pets from being just someone’s property that can be reclaimed.

"Now that dog is in a home, adopted, you have no rights to it, that why we need it because dogs were considered property, same thing as a diamond ring, same thing as a camera," said Rep. O’Brien.

"Remember it has to be in a pound, right, or animal shelter; ‘how did you not check your local animal shelter?’ I would check every shelter in the state," said O’Brien of owners who do not claim their animal in a reasonable amount of time.

"It will get those dogs a lot quicker into their forever home and avoid a long wait, so it's good," said Tammy Flanagan of the East Greenwich Animal Protection League.

The law also calls for a pound or shelter to promptly and reasonably try to find an animal's owner.

Flanagan says her organization does, but when that attempt fails, finding the animal a new home as quickly as possible is key.

"They become even less adoptable if they sit in a shelter for too long because that starts to make them go a little bit stir crazy so it's important to get them out of a shelter into a home," she said.

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