Town looks to increase fines for animal cruelty following case ending in dog euthanasia

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BURRILLVILLE – Town officials are looking to increase fines on those found guilty of animal cruelty following an incident in January, which led to the euthanasia of a 13-year-old cocker spaniel.

Joseph Pagliarini, 47, and Jennifer Pagliarini, 45, were charged with animal cruelty in the case, which was recently tried in municipal court.

The issue of fines was brought to the Town Council by Solicitor William Dimitri this week after he watched the case play out.

“I was a little surprised at the minimalist fines,” Dimitri said, noting that fines for those found guilty are $20 for the first offense and $30 for the second. “I certainly thought that $20, $30 was much too low. The conditions of the dog were pretty egregious in my opinion.”

According to the January 19 report on the incident, the dog, a female cocker spaniel, was found roaming on Mt. Pleasant Road by a motorist at 5 a.m.

“The dog was examined and found to be very dirty with heavy matting on the ears down to the skin, fleas, severely overgrown toenails, severe dental disease, small growths on the lower lip/chin area that were bleeding, severe and chronic untreated bilateral ear infections which were oozing black/brown debris, a heart murmur, Lyme Disease and Anaplasma… loss of muscle mass, urinary track infection, significant anemia and very abnormal liver values,” the report noted. “The dog was lethargic and had a swollen abdomen and respiration.”

The dog was brought to Northern Rhode Island Animal Hospital, where euthanasia was recommended.

The report notes that the dog had previously been impounded for roaming and had been brought to the hospital before, where the owners had been told to give her antibiotics for several infections, but declined the treatment.

When contacted, Joseph Pagliarini reportedly didn’t know the dog was missing.

Dimitri noted that fines of $100-$500 for the first offense, $200-$500 for the second offense and $300-500 for the third offense, would be more appropriate for the crime.

“I think the fines are very antiquated,” agreed Councilor Stephen Rawson. “They’re very low.”

Dimitri said the town code regarding cruelty to animals was last updated in 2010, but the fees were not addressed. Most cases, he noted, are not tried in municipal court.

“I think these are pretty reasonable considering,” Dimitri said.

The council voted to send the issue to the town’s Ordinance Subcommittee for further review.

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