While true dog lovers would never leave their pups outside in extreme weather – especially overnight – the recent cold snap across the US has advocates deeply concerned over canines who are being left outside in the elements. Sadly, many states lack laws that protect these helpless pets, leaving witnesses unable to help them without the potential of making the situation worse.
Unfortunately, this is the case for the state of Rhode Island, where outrage has sparked over 6 dogs being left in the frigid cold due to a loophole in the law. To add insult to injury, the concerns have arisen following an animal cruelty case in which dozens of dogs were seized due to living in neglectful conditions, including being kept in filth outside. The hypocrisy has people wondering: how come one case warrants penalization and not the other?
An article by the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) states:
“The current law, which the General Assembly enacted last year, makes it illegal to keep any dog outside when the ambient temperature is above or below the industry standard for the weather safety scale as set forth in the most recently adopted version of the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Weather Safety Scale. However, the law makes an exemption for any person raising or training a gun dog or hunting dog.“
Watch a news story detailing the animal cruelty case, followed by the story involving the 6 hunting dogs:
Clifford Dennis, the owner of the hunting dogs who has reportedly cooperative with the recent investigations, spoke out in a news story by ABC 6, saying:
“I love them I take care of them the best that I can and if I was a millionaire they’d probably be living in a mansion but that’s not the case.”
“Right now there are 3 dogs outside – they’re rotated with the three dogs that are inside the trailer. The trailer has a wood stove where we keep it pretty warm. It’s five hours out five hours in.”
Despite receiving hundreds of phone calls, the RISPCA says they can’t do anything because Dennis isn’t breaking any laws – but it doesn’t mean they agree with it. The scenario brings to light a bigger issue: Rhode Island animal cruelty laws need to be changed, along with most of the other US states.
Amidst the controversy, investigations, news coverage, and protests, Dennis said that he would move the dogs to an indoor shelter last week. But even if they have been brought to safety, it still doesn’t close the legal loophole for other hunting dog owners.
The Change.org petition, which aims to convince the local government to tighten up on these laws, has gathered over 65,000 signatures to date. The good news is, advocates are finally making waves, and hopefully legislation is soon to change.