The women believe that according to New Hampshire RSA 644.8, what’s happening to the dog qualifies as cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony on recurring offenses.
“We’re not crazy animal people, we’re just passionate that something is wrong,” Mayer said.
RSA 644.8 defines cruelty to animals as including but not limited to “acts or omissions injurious or detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of any animal, including the abandoning of any animal without proper provision for its care, sustenance, protection or shelter.”
But it doesn’t define “shelter” or “necessary shelter” as being inside a home. Instead. it states it is “any natural or artificial area which provides protection from the direct sunlight and adequate air circulation when that sunlight is likely to cause heat exhaustion of a dog tied or caged outside. Shelter from the weather shall allow the dog to remain clean and dry. Shelter shall be structurally sound and have an area within to afford the dog the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down, and be of proportionate size as to allow the natural body heat of the dog to be retained.”
The law does define cruelty as negligently permitting or causing “any animal in his possession or custody to be subjected to cruelty, inhumane treatment or unnecessary suffering of any kind.”
Since the women believe the dog’s situation qualifies as cruelty to animals as defined by state law, Town Manager Bill Manzi said he’ll set up a meeting with Mayer, Driscoll, police Chief Lee Bitomske and himself to discuss the situation.
In addition, Selectman Ray Smith suggested the women work to update the state law to include provisions that more specifically cover a situation like this.