Tell Rhode Island Lawmakers: Pass REAL Laws to Protect Dogs and Cats From Mutilation

  • by: Alicia Graef
  • recipient: Sen. Domenick Ruggerio and Rep. Patricia Serpa

Update 7/7: The General Asembly passed this harmful bill, which will be going to the governor for a signature. 

Please call or email Governor Lincoln Chafee asking him not to sign it:
Phone: (401) 222-2080


Listen to the dogs in this short video: They were devocalized - an inhumane veterinary procedure in which vocal cords are cut just to stifle a companion animal’s voice.

Legislation was recently sponsored by Sen. Domenick Ruggerio and Rep. Patricia Serpa that would to prohibit landlords from requiring that animals be devocalized or declawed in Rhode Island. 

While this legislation is well intentioned, it is meaningless. Landlords are not the reason dogs and cats are subjected to these inhumane surgeries - uninformed and irresponsible owners are.  

Even if a few landlords did require devocalization or declawing, they could skirt the law by disallowing all pets, which could make it even harder for people with companion animals to find a place to live. So what do such laws accomplish? Nothing.

Laws like the one in Massachusetts, sponsored by an all-volunteer group of animal lovers, are needed to protect dogs and cats from this cruelty. It prohibits vocal cord surgery on dogs and cats except for the only ethical reason: to treat a physical ailment, like cancer, causing the animal medical harm.

Devocalization does not benefit dogs and cats at all and exposes them to life-threatening risks regardless of the vet’s skill and experience. Even a little scar tissue, a normal outcome of any surgery, can cause lifelong anguish or a terrible death when it forms in the throat. It also still leaves them just as vulnerable to abandonment or euthanasia as any other pet. 

Please sign this petition urging Sen. Ruggerio and Rep. Serpa to withdraw their bills or amend them to ban these cruel and unnecessary surgeries unequivocally as the Massachusetts law does devocalization. "Landlord laws" do not help and could actually harm animals.

Dear Sen. Ruggerio and Rep. Serpa,
Animal lovers appreciate your concern that dogs and cats not be subjected to devocalization and declawing. These are unnecessary surgeries that cause animals great pain—and in the case of devocalization, life-threatening risks—without any benefit, not even assurance of a home.
However, a law that only prohibits landlords from requiring devocalization and declawing does not protect animals. Landlords are not the reason pet owners, breeders and animal-testing labs have animals devocalized or declawed.
Failure to select, care for, train and supervise animals responsibly, or keeping too many, are the real problems.
In fact, California’s statewide landlord association supported legislation on which yours is based. Trade associations do not work against the interests of their members.

What's more, if even a few landlords did require devocalization or declawing, they could skirt the law by disallowing all pets. So what do such laws accomplish?
We ask you to withdraw your bills or amend them so they ban these cruel and unnecessary surgeries unequivocally, as Massachusetts does devocalization.

In 2010, Massachusetts made history with that law. Let Rhode Island now raise humane treatment of companion animals to an even higher level by enacting a meaningful, enforceable law that includes declawing--not an empty landlord law.
It's important to shield all dogs and cats from devocalization and declawing. Laws applying only to landlords protect none of them.

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