§ 4-1-31. Assignment of state veterinarian.
(a) Examination of fighting animals. A licensed veterinarian from the department of environmental management, shall be made available to agents of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at the request of the state police for the purpose of examining any animal that those agents believe to have been involved in animal fighting in violation of §§ 4-1-2, 4-1-8, 4-1-9 or 4-1-11.
(b) Right of entry where cruelty suspected. The director of the department of environmental management, or any veterinarian employed by the department of environmental management designated by the director for such purpose, having reason to suspect the existence of cruelty to animals within the meaning of this chapter upon any grounds or premises, is hereby authorized and empowered to enter upon those grounds or premises for enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. For such inspections, the department shall, unless a search without a warrant is otherwise allowed by law, seek a search warrant from an official of a court authorized to issue warrants.
(c) The director of the department of environmental management may designate a department veterinarian or veterinarians to act as animal advocates. A general agent or special agent from the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals may also act in that capacity.
(d) The animal advocate shall make recommendations to any court before which the custody or well-being of an animal is at issue.
(e) Any animal care facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or holding a public health service (PHS) assurance of compliance shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.
(f) Right to seize animals that are the subject of cruel treatment.
The director of environmental management, or any veterinarian employed by the department of environmental management ("department"), shall have the authority to examine any animal that is suspected of being cruelly treated, mistreated, or neglected by its owner, guardian, or his or her agents in violation of the provisions of chapter 1 of this title. Upon reasonable evidence to suggest that the subject animal(s) has been cruelly treated, mistreated, or negligently treated by the owner, guardian, or his or her agents, in violation of the provisions of chapter 1 of this title, the department may lawfully take charge of that animal(s) and shall have the authority to seize said animal(s). Any animal(s) so seized shall remain in the custody of the department during the pendency of any civil or criminal investigation and remain in the custody of the department until the adjudication of the matter. All reasonable expenses for the care and treatment of the animal(s), while in the custody of the department during this time, shall be paid for by the owner, guardian, or his or her agent upon conviction, entry of a guilty plea, or a plea of nolo contendere. The department has the authority to commence a civil action for damages against the owner, guardian, or his or her agent thirty (30) days after written demand for payment of the expenses of the suitable care of that animal has been sent and no payment received.
(P.L. 1983, ch. 180, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 398, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 193, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 203, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 261, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 321, § 1.)