Paving the way
Warwick is full of animal advocates. A few weeks ago, a demonstration was held in front of the Route 2 Rumford Pet Store in Warwick. Protestors with signs stood out in the sun to catch the eyes of motorists, all in the name of preventing cruelty to puppy mill dogs.
Last week, the governor signed into law a bill relating to the treatment of companion animals that had its roots right here in our own city.
Back in 2009, a dog left outside in Warwick died due to (what the RISPCA ruled was) hypothermia. That spurred Councilman Joseph Solomon onto a cause he’s still very passionate about: protecting the health, safety and well-being of companion animals.
In 2010, the council voted in favor of an ordinance sponsored by Solomon, which has, in the years since, blossomed into the piece of legislation Governor Chafee signed into law last week.
No longer can animals be left out in the extreme cold or heat. No longer can they be tethered for hours on end or with choking or restrictive collars. Now, owners of animals who are neglected will face jail time, a fine, or both.
Advocates consider this a huge step forward, but for those of us in Warwick, it’s old hat. We were pioneers on the front, and the actions of our city representatives resulted in a statewide difference.
Importantly, it’s a law that no one can frown upon: people can still leave their dogs outside, but it must be done in a way that’s fair to the animal. Who can argue with that?
It is, as Solomon put it, a good move for animals and animal lovers. He said it best: the animals can’t advocate for themselves, so they depend on us. That’s a message a lot of Warwick residents are taking to heart. In time, their small steps forward could, like Solomon’s efforts, turn into giant leaps.
Though Rhode Island is not the first to enact a law like this, we’re certainly not the last, and that’s important. Too often we’re at the bottom of the heap, so when we climb our way out from the bottom of the barrel, it’s important to take a step back and examine exactly how that change came about.
In this case, we in Warwick were the catalyst. Solomon, in conjunction with fellow Warwick resident Dennis Tabella, the founder of Defenders of Animals, worked hard to ensure that animals locally and statewide had justice. The two of them deserve a pat on the back and maybe, from our canine friends, a lick of the face.