Rep wants harsher animal abuse sentences
Emaciated dogs prompting Serpa to seek measure
COVENTRY –– After two dogs were found over the last week severely emaciated and neglected, state Rep. Patricia Serpa, a longtime advocate for animals in the General Assembly, says there should be consequences for the suspect(s).
The two dogs were found days apart in Coventry this past Saturday and again on Monday. The first dog, a male pit bull found near the Sherwood Valley neighborhood of Coventry, was euthanized later that evening. The second dog, a female pit bull, is receiving ongoing veterinary care according to Coventry Animal Control.
Both animals were severely emaciated upon being found, with other apparent medical conditions visible on their bodies. Coventry Police have reportedly said the cases are among the worst they’ve seen in recent years.
Coventry Police have been handing out flyers around town with photos of the two dogs and where they were found, also indicating that there is a $1,000 reward being offered by the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) and Handsome Dan’s Rescue for another $500 for anyone offering information leading to an arrest or conviction of a suspect in the case.
“We are cautiously optimistic about our female pit bull, who’s blood test results came back showing heart worm and anemia,” the police department said Wednesday. “She is doing well in the care of our capable Animal Control Officers.”
Rumors have gone round social media that perhaps the dogs were simply lost, but Serpa said she’s not so sure judging by the extent of their undernourishment.
“I have to believe the sudden appearance of two emaciated dogs over the course of three days is no coincidence,” she said. “From the pictures provided by the media, it looks like both dogs have been neglected for a very long time. They don’t waste away to that degree over the matter of a couple of days of being lost or running away from home. The public is very engaged and interested in seeing the person or people responsible for this cruelty being brought to justice.”
Serpa pointed out that the General Assembly just this year the granted authority to impose prison time for individuals convicted of animal neglect or mistreatment that was responsible for an animal’s death.
“I believe that imprisonment is warranted in this case if the perpetrator can be identified,” she said. “The Coventry Police Department is keenly aware of the public outcry over the condition of these animals. I truly believe that they will devote the appropriate resources to solving these heinous acts of animal neglect.”
Serpa said the increase in the number of animal neglect cases being brought forward could be, at least in part, due to more people demanding respect for not only their own family pets but for all animals in general.
“Unfortunately, there is still an element of the population that does not share that perspective and they view animals as commodities for their amusement, for fighting or simply take a perverse pleasure in watching them suffer. Apparently not all of the human race has evolved to the point where all life should be viewed as valuable,” she said.
Serpa said the recent cases have made her “furious.”
“It makes me wonder how many other dogs are out there either already dead or wandering around in near-death situations,” she said.
A Coventry woman who located the first dog, Amberlee Perry-Gagne, has created a GoFundMe fundraiser for the surviving female pit bull’s medical costs: gofundme.com/sweet-girl-foundin-Coventry.