Email response from RI DEM State Vet. Dr. Marshal: (regarding 409 Toll Gate rd)
"Thank you for providing the information in the thread of emails.
I would like to clarify a few things. Mr. Dennis is not currently licensed with DEM. If he is in fact breeding dogs, he would be required to be licensed pursuant to a new law, passed this fall, that requires breeders to be licensed as a “breeder” if they sell in excess of three litters per calendar year, or twenty puppies per calendar year. That law can be referenced at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE4/4-19/4-19-2.HTM paragraph 17 defines the limits of a “hobby breeder,” an excess of those limits is a “breeder.” As the law is written we would need proof that he has sold in excess of those limits. Please note that he would be exempt if he is not selling the dogs since this law applies to the retail sale of dogs.
You raised questions about paperwork for moving dogs interstate. This is not a simple answer since it depends on the state of destination. The state of destination sets the requirements for animals entering the state. Some states require proof of current rabies vaccination and an official certificate of veterinary inspection (OCVI) for dogs to enter the state while others don’t regulate dog importation at all. If Mr. Clifford caused a dog to be exported to a state that requires either or both of those documents, but he didn’t fulfill that requirement, he would be in a state of noncompliance with the state that received the dog, not with RI where the dog originated from. If you have any information regarding shipment out of state I will be happy to pass on to my counterpart in that state for enforcement, and I will also check any records we may have here regarding an OCVI with RI listed as the origin. (OCVIs are multipart forms filled out by federally accredited vets; the states of origin and destination each receive a copy, even though the destination state has the enforcement obligation).
I understand that Mr. Clifford has cooperated with the RISPCA and has provided shelter for the dogs. I hope he continues to do so. Based on conversations with RISPCA he is currently compliant with existing state cruelty laws and, though he may require a breeder license, we have no proof that he does. If anything changes on either front regarding compliance, we will act appropriately."
SCOTT N. MARSHALL, DVM
Rhode Island State Veterinarian
Department of Environmental Management
Division of Agriculture/Animal Health
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-6047 (fax)
My response this evening to Dr. Marshall & Dr. Peter Belinsky at RIDEM, along with Earl Newman and Joe Warzycha at the RISPCA:
Dr. Marshall, and my questions are also directed to Earl Newman...
If Clifford Dennis doesn't have a breeder's license on file with you, are you able to verify if he does with the City Of Warwick or will I need to make a separate request for that information? Would the City of Warwick's breeder application be the same as the DEM application?
According to state law Title 4 Chapter 4-19 "Animal Care," a Breeder is defined as: 10) "Breeder" means a person engaged in the propagation of purebred or crossbred dogs and/r cats for the purpose of improving and enhancing a breed recognized and registered by the American Kennel Club, American Field Stud Book, a registered cat breed association, or for sale at wholesale or retail, unless otherwise exempted as a hobby breeder as defined below.
A "Hobby Breeder" is defined as: "Hobby breeder" means those persons whose regular occupation is not the breeding and raising of dogs and cats and whose method of sale is at retail only. A hobby breeder shall not exceed the limits set forth in § 4-25-1(4). Any person who sells at retail a number in excess of the limits in the aforementioned section shall be considered a breeder.
If Clifford Dennis is breeding pit bulls but not selling them- wholesale or retail- (as he claims to be "giving them away") how is he qualifying as a breeder? He also wouldn't qualify as a "hobby breeder." So how is he qualifying to be a breeder in any legal capacity?
How would anyone know if Dennis needs to be licensed as a breeder if no one is verifying if he is in fact selling dogs or giving them away? If he is just giving dogs away that he breeds, does that mean anyone can just breed dogs in RI, give them away anywhere in our state and in the country, and not be a licensed breeder?
How is Dennis able to have 6 adult pit bulls ( which exceeds the city ordinance of 3) if he is not technically a legitimate breeder (according to the state law definitions)?
Who is verifying if Dennis is selling pit bulls or giving them away? Do the state laws require that information to be kept on file by the breeder?
When I spoke with Earl over the phone, he had stated there were two, 4-5 month old puppies on the property. At one point they are also heard barking on video footage. Why were those puppies not mentioned in either of the public updates released by RISPCA? Dennis stated he gave the two puppies away. Does anyone know where they went? Did anyone follow up to find out if they are alive or dead? Dennis is recorded as saying "you think I'm going to let you people take them away to be spayed or neutered?" Wouldn't this warrant further investigation by the RISPCA?
Does anyone know where the 3 adult pit bulls are that were relocated to Coventry as was stated by Dennis to the Warwick police this past Sunday?
How often are inspections of breeding "facilities" required on an annual basis?
Has the RISPCA been back to visit 409 Toll Gate road property to verify if any of the dogs have been brought inside- especially overnight- since Dennis offered to do so?
Have any temperature readings of the dog crates been taken between the hours of 8PM and 8 AM, especially when the temperatures fall into the teens and single digits?
CITY OF WARWICK , CODE OF ORDINANCES:
Warwick has specific laws targeted at reducing the number of pit bulls to lower shelter population and their euthanasia rates. How does Warwick issue breeding licenses if someone is breeding to give dogs away and not to sell them?
Sec. 4-124. - Findings, purpose and intent.
(a) The city council finds and determines that:
(1) There is over breeding of American Pitbull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and dogs that are mixes of the two breeds.
(2) Due to the large number of these dogs, euthanasia is not a cost effective, acceptable or ethical solution to the threats of public health and safety posed by large populations of these dogs.
(3) A license system for breeding of American Pitbull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and dogs that are mixes of the two breeds in the City of Warwick, combined with a program for spaying/neutering, is a reasonable and effective means of reducing the population of these dogs, and for eliminating the practice of euthanizing these dogs, which oftentimes are unwanted and abandoned, except where euthanasia is necessary to protect people and/or other animals from vicious behavior.
(b) Declaration of intent. The city council hereby finds and declares that it intends to provide for the public health, safety and welfare through a program requiring spaying and neutering of American Pitbull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and mixes of the two breeds unless appropriate licenses are acquired.
(Ord. No. O-10-7, § I, 5-18-10)
According to the City Code of ordinances below, an individual can own or harbor an American pit bull or staffordshire terrier or a mix of the two breeds over the age of 6 months -- not spayed or neutered-- if the person holds a special license to do so - OR- has a license for breeding said dogs.
How does one qualify to hold a "special license?"
Sec. 4-125. - Spaying/neutering.
(a) No person shall own or harbor within the city any American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds over the age of six months, which has not been spayed or neutered, unless such person holds a license to keep an unaltered American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds, or a license for breeding said dogs issued by the director of the animal shelter of the City of Warwick.
A person can also breed and sell intact/unaltered pit bulls in Warwick if the dogs are: 1.) registered 2.) entered in dog shows 3.) pay a fee of $100 per year for each dog.
(b) A license to breed and sell shall be issued to an individual for an unaltered American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds if the owner satisfies the following requirements:
(i) Provide registration for the dog;
(ii) A conformation title or proof of entry in conformation dog shows on three separate occasions within two years or provide a valid contract from the dog's registered breeder prohibiting sterilization until the dog attains the age set forth in the contract;
(iii) Pay a fee of $100.00 per dog per year with a signed application.
All funds from breeding licenses shall be deposited in the City of Warwick's Spay/Neuter Account to be managed by the Director of the Warwick Animal Shelter.
(c) Any person providing care or sustenance for a period of 30 days or longer shall be deemed the owner of such dog and shall adhere to the provision of this section.
(Ord. No. O-10-7, § I, 5-18-10)
Sec. 4-126. - Breeding licenses.
(a) No person shall cause or allow any American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds owned or harbored in the city to breed without first obtaining a breeding license under this section.
The information below was sent to RIDEM yesterday as well as to the entire Warwick City Council, several legislators, Defenders of Animals and to the RISPCA.
After the protest wrapped up yesterday, I received a tip that at least one of the pit bulls was back outside on the Toll Gate Rd property.
I went to observe (by sitting across the street in my vehicle) how long any of the pit bulls would be left outside- the temperatures were below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill).. I was able to observe one tan pit bull left outside for at least a half hour (in a caged, fenced in area in front of one of the 2 trailers, repeatedly barking towards a pickup truck that was about 30 feet away --with individual(s) seated in it, running and heated, standing guard towards the front of the property.
After about a half hour had passed, the breeder, Clifford Dennis returned back to the area- with the back of his pickup truck loaded with firewood --along with having a pit bull in the pickup truck with him. He saw me and pulled up alongside me holding up the "peace" sign with his fingers, mouthing through the window that he wanted to talk.
I recorded almost the entire interaction except for about three minutes of Dennis reading me Bible passages.
I apologize for the Patriots game playing in the background on the radio, I overlooked shutting that off! I had to edit the sound and enhance it so you could hear Dennis better.