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Rhode Island State Legislators Receive 2012 Humane State Legislator Awards

Lawmakers Applauded for Working to End Inhumane Treatment of Farm Animals in Rhode Island

The Humane Society of the United States has awarded Rhode Island State Sen. Dominick Ruggerio (D, 4th District) and Rep. Patricia Serpa (D, 27th District) as Rhode Island’s Humane State Legislators for 2012. Each year, The HSUS recognizes select state lawmakers across the country who pursue path-breaking animal protection legislation and demonstrably advance reform in the policy-making arena.

Sen. Ruggerio and Rep. Serpa are recognized for their sponsorship of two farm animal welfare measures. S.2191/H.7180 bans veal crates for veal calves and gestation crates for breeding sows—cages that permanently confine the animals and prevent them from even turning around—and S.2192 prohibits cattle tail docking, an inhumane and unnecessary mutilation. The bills were enacted in 2012, and the legislators’ sponsorships were instrumental in passing both.

“Senator Ruggerio and Representative Serpa have worked steadfastly to end the extreme confinement of breeding sows and veal calves and the tail docking of dairy cows. We are enormously grateful for their tremendous work,” said Matt Dominguez, public policy manager for farm animal protection for The HSUS. “Farm animals and residents of Rhode Island are fortunate to have these hardworking, compassionate legislators representing them in the legislature.”


  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on the issue of gestation crates: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading North American pork producers Smithfield, Hormel, Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods are ending the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.
  • Nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and many industry representatives oppose the routine tail docking of dairy cows. The AVMA explains: “Current scientific literature indicates that routine tail docking provides no benefit to the animal, and that tail docking can lead to distress during fly seasons.” The CVMA states that “it has been shown that cows are unable to effectively keep flies away once the tail is docked.”

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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