Pet Laws

Leash Laws

Section 3-1 of the animal control ordinance is hereby amended by deleting the definition of the word “Leashed,” and substituting therefore the following definition:
Leashed: A dog or other animal is “leashed” within the meaning of this chapter only when it has a cord or chain attached to its collar or harness and held in the hand by the owner or competent person leading said animal, who shall have the animal under control.

In 1985 the general assembly enacted a strict statute governing vicious animals and animals running at large. The penalties are severe. You may wish to consult the Rhode Island Statutes. The excerpts appearing below are portions of an ordinance regulating the "running at large of animals" and in amendment to chapter three, section two of the Portsmouth Town Code. It is the intent that they help to inform you of town regulations regarding dogs. (A complete copy is available for inspection at the Office of the Town Clerk or the Animal Control Officer.)
  • Sec. 3-6
    • (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to allow or permit any animal to trespass on private or public property so as to damage or destroy any property or thing of value and the same is hereby declared to be a nuisance...
    • (b) The keeping or harboring of any dog or other animal or fowl whether licensed or not, which habitually howls, yelps, barks, or causes noises... is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and each day shall constitute a separate offense
  • Sec. 3-9 - It shall unlawful for any resident of the Town of Portsmouth to keep more than three (3) licensed dogs at a single-family residence, except as provided by the Animal Control Officer. This provisions shall not apply to licensed kennels. 
  • Sec. 3-13 - No person, being the owner or keeper of a dog or having the charge or custody of a dog, shall allow such dog to run loose off its owner or keeper's property within the Town of Portsmouth unless such dog is properly leashed and said leash is controlled by the owner or keeper of such dog
  • Sec. 3-14
    • (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of this ordinance, any person who immediately notifies the Animal Control Officer that their dog has escaped from restraint and requests assistance in bringing the dog under control or restraint shall not be punished or liable for a fine, charge, or fee pursuant to this chapter for failure to properly restrain a dog...
  • Sec. 3-16 - Confinement of dangerous vicious animals and females in heat (ask for paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section).
  • Sec. 3-17
    • (a) Every animal which bites a person shall be promptly reported to the Animal Control Officer and shall thereupon be securely quarantined...

Rhode Island General Laws

Chapter 4-13 Entitled “Dogs”

  • 4-13-31 - Compulsory rabies vaccination
    • (a) For the purpose of preventing the introduction of rabies when rabies appears in any nearby area and its appearance creates a threat of introduction into Rhode Island; or for the suppression; or for the control of rabies, the board shall make regulations requiring compulsory vaccination of dogs, cats, ferrets, or any other domestic animal as deemed necessary against rabies in a manner specified by it in any area or areas within the State of Rhode Island, which are deemed necessary to prevent that introduction, or for the purposes of suppression and control
    • (f) Any veterinarian or any person directed by a veterinarian who vaccinates a dog, cat, or ferret against rabies must issue a rabies vaccination certificate to the animal's owner. This certificate shall meet the minimum standards approved by the board, which include: the veterinarian's name, the veterinarian's practice name, address and telephone number; the pet owner's name and address, the pet's name, species, age, coloration and sex; the rabies vaccine manufacturer's name; the date of inoculation and the signature of the doctor who administered or directed the administration of the rabies vaccine. For dogs, cats, and ferrets, there shall be a record kept which lists the number of the rabies tag issued in conjunction with the rabies vaccination certificate. 
    • (i) A person who fails to have or refuses to have each dog, cat, and / or ferret owned or kept by said person vaccinated against rabies violates the provisions of this chapter
  • 4-13-32 - Penalty for violation of rabies suppression provisions
    • Any person violating the provisions of 4-13-29 and 4-13-31 shall be charged with a misdemeanor and fined not less than $200 nor more than $500 for each offense or be imprisoned for not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days

Chapter 22 - Cat Identification Program

  • 4-22-2. (d) "Identification" means: a traceable form of identification such as:
    1. A collar and a flat or hanging tag worn by a cat which includes the current name, address, and telephone number of the owner
    2. A rabies vaccination tag
    3. An ear tag issued by a licensed veterinarian or by a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound
    4. A registered microchip which is used in conjunction with a visible collar and tag or in conjunction with a faceted, reflective ear stud
    5. A tag from a licensed animal shelter or licensed municipal pound
    6. A tattoo registered with the National Dog Registry or other similar national tattoo service
    7. A cat license issued by a Rhode Island city or town
    8. A collar incorporating embroidery as a type of information labeling rather than a hanging or flat tag
    9. In the case of feral cats, a tipped or notched ear in conjunction with a microchip or any of the above other forms of identification. The intent is to allow flexibility in the types of identification available for cats and to incorporate other types of cat identification in the future as they are developed (as of January 1, 2000).