Rhode Island Service Dog Laws

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Definitions

Under Chapter 9.1, Equal Rights of Blind and Deaf Persons to Public Facilities:

“Guide dog” means a dog that has been or is being specially trained to aid a particular blind or visually impaired person.

“Hearing dog” means a dog that has been or is being specially trained to aid a particular deaf or hard-of-hearing person.

“Personal assistance animal” means a dog that has been or is being trained as a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog.

“Service dog” means a dog that has been or is being specially trained to aid a particular disabled person with a disability other than sight or hearing.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 40-9.1-1

Accommodation Law

Every disabled person/trainer of assistance animal has the right to be accompanied by a personal assistance animal, specially trained for that person in any housing accommodation or in any listed public place.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 40-9.1-2

The privileges of access and transportation provided to personal assistance animals is extended to family therapy pets which are further defined as primary companions which include, but are not limited to, dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs, that are working in the provision of pet assisted therapy treatment and education.

Access and transportation privileges are onlyextended while the family therapy pet is on the way to or actively participating in a program.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 40-9.1-5

Violation is a misdemeanor punishable imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months or by a fine of not less than $100, or by both fine and imprisonment. Also liable for actual damages for any economic loss and/or punitive damages, to be recovered by a civil action in a court in and for the county in which the infringement of civil rights occurred or in which the defendant lives.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 40-9.1-3

Any blind or deaf person, who uses the services of a seeing-eye guide dog, or personal assistance animal or a hearing-ear signal dog, clearly identified as such by a yellow harness and trained by a recognized training agency or school, may enter any public facility of any public utility or common carrier in this state.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 39-2-13

Every person with a disability who has a guide dog or other personal assistive animal, or who obtains a guide dog or other personal assistive animal, shall be entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 34-37-4

Harassment of/Interference with Service Dogs

Under Dog Law:

Owner of dog who dog kills, wounds, or worries, or assists in killing, wounding, or worrying, any seeing-eye dog certified for use as a guide-dog under harness or engaged in act of guiding owner, or if that dog assaults or bites the visually impaired person, the owner of offending dog must pay the blind or visually impaired guide-dog owner double all the damages sustained.

If the act occurs again, the owner of the offending dog owes treble damages and an order must be made by the court to kill the dog.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-16.1

Under Equal Rights Law:

It is unlawful for any person to injure a personal assistance animal and shall be liable for the injuries to the assistance animal and if necessary the replacement and compensation for the loss of the personal assistance animal.

It is unlawful for the owner of a dog to allow that dog to injure a personal assistance animal because the owner failed to control or leash the dog. The owner shall also be liable for the injuries to the personal assistance dog and if necessary the replacement and compensation for the loss of the personal assistance animal.

Purposeful or negligent violation is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months or by a fine of not less than $100, or by both fine and imprisonment.

Also liable for actual damages for any economic loss and/or punitive damages.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 40-9.1-3

Driving Law

Whenever a pedestrian is crossing/attempting to cross a public street guided by a trained seeing-eye guide dog or a hearing-ear signal dog clearly identified as such by a yellow harness, approaching drivers must bring vehicles to a full stop and before proceeding shall take any precautions that may be necessary to avoid injuring the pedestrian.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 31-18-14

Violation results in fine of fine not more than $250.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 31-18-16

Licensing Law

Any city or town may waive the fee to be charged to license guide dogs used by persons with disabilities.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-4