State Attorney General
150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 274-4400
Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights
10 Abbott Park Place
Providence, RI 02903-3768
Tel: (401) 222-2661
Fax: (401) 222-2616
TDD: (401) 222-2664
Equal Rights of Blind and Deaf Persons to Public Facilities
§ 40-9.1-1 Declaration of policy. – It is the policy of this state that:
(a) Persons who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard-of-hearing and otherwise disabled have the same rights as the able-bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, walkways, public buildings, public facilities and other public places.
(b) Persons who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard-of-hearing and otherwise disabled are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges on any public conveyance operated on land or water or in the air, or any stations and terminals thereof, not limited to taxis, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats and in any educational institution, not limited to any kindergarten, primary and secondary school, trade or business school, high school, academy, college and university, and in places of public resort, accommodation, assemblage or amusement, not limited to hotels, lodging places, restaurants, theater and in all other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
(c) Persons who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard-of-hearing and otherwise disabled persons shall be entitled to rent, lease or purchase, as other members of the general public, any housing accommodations offered for rent, lease or other compensation in this state, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
Equal Rights of Blind and Deaf Persons to Public Facilities
§ 40-9.1-1.1 Definitions. – (a) "Guide dog" means a dog that has been or is being specially trained to aid a particular blind or visually impaired person.
(b) "Hearing dog" means a dog that has been or is being specially trained to aid a particular deaf or hard-of-hearing person.
(c) "Housing accommodations" means any real property or portion thereof that is used or occupied, or intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied, as the home, residence or sleeping place of one or more human beings, but does not include any single-family residence the occupants of which rent, lease or furnish for compensation to more than one room therein.
(d) "Personal assistance animal" means a dog that has been or is being trained as a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog.
(e) "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.
§ 40-9.1-2 Personal assistance animals in public places. – Every disabled person has the right to be accompanied by a personal assistance animal, specially trained for that person in any housing accommodation or in any places listed in § 40-9.1-1(b) and (c) without being required to pay an extra charge for the personal assistance animal. Each disabled person using a personal assistance animal is solely liable for any damage done to persons, premises or facilities by the personal assistance animal.
§ 40-9.1-2.1 Trainers of personal assistance animals and dogs in training. – Every trainer or puppy raiser of a personal assistance animal shall have the same rights and privileges as stated in § 40-9.1-2 for every person with a disability. Each trainer or puppy raiser during the training of a personal assistance animal is liable for any damage done to persons, premises or facilities by that personal assistance animal.
§ 40-9.1-3 Penalty for injuring or interfering with a personal assistance animal – Civil actions – Damages – Cost and attorney's fees. – (a) It is unlawful for any person, corporation or the agent of any corporation to:
(1) Withhold, deny, deprive or attempt to withhold, deny or deprive any other person of any right or privilege secured by §§ 40-9.1-2 and 40-9.1-2.1;
(2) Intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to threaten, intimidate or coerce any other person to interfere with any right or privilege secured by §§ 40-9.1-2 and 40-9.1-2.1;
(3) Punish or attempt to punish any person for exercising or attempting to exercise any right or privilege secured by §§ 40-9.1-2 and 40-9.1-2.1;
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
(d) Any person who violates subsection (a)(1) is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person who purposely or negligently violates subsection (a)(2) or (a)(3) is guilty of a misdemeanor. Violations shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months or by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), or by both fine and imprisonment. Any person or corporation who violates subsections (a), (b), or (c) is also liable to the person whose rights under §§ 40-9.1-2 and 40-9.1-2.1 were violated 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.
(e) In an action brought under this section, the court shall award costs and reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party.
§ 40-9.1-4 Enforcement of anti-discrimination provisions. – The Rhode Island commission for human rights is empowered and directed, as hereinafter provided, to prevent any person from violating any of the provisions of this chapter; provided, that before instituting a formal hearing it shall attempt by informal methods of conference, persuasion and conciliation, to induce compliance with those sections. Upon the commission's own initiative or whenever an aggrieved individual or an organization chartered for the purpose of combating discrimination or of safeguarding civil liberties or rights of persons with disabilities, such individual or organization being hereinafter referred to as "the complainant", makes a charge to the commission that any person, agency, bureau, corporation or association, hereinafter referred to as "the respondent", has violated or is violating any of the provisions of this chapter, the said commission may proceed in the same manner and with the same powers as provided in §§ 28-5-16 – 28-5-27, and the provisions of §§ 28-5-13 and 28-5-16 – 28-5-36, as to the powers, duties and rights of the commission, its members, hearing examiners, the complainant, respondent, interviewer and the court shall apply in any proceedings under this section.
§ 40-9.1-5 Family therapy pets in public places. – (a) The privileges of access and transportation provided to personal assistance animals in § 40-9.1-2 shall be 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.
(b) The provisions are such that the pet assisted therapy facilitator is working in conjunction with the family therapy pet in a predetermined medical or educational setting, with a selected clientele. The medical interactions are to be individually planned, goal-oriented, and treatment based, and the educational settings are to be classroom based.
(c) Throughout the interactions, the pet assisted therapy facilitator and the family therapy pet will abide by a set code of ethics, and will follow professional guidelines to ensure that the actions and deeds of the pet assisted therapy facilitator reflect advocacy of profession, pets, and clients, and other professions; while simultaneously ensuring that the interaction of the family therapy pet and client remains beneficial and strives to enhance the quality of life through this animal-human bond.
(d) Prior to any interactions, the family therapy pet must first meet the immunization criteria, a current certificate of good health, which shall be issued by a licensed, practicing veterinarian, as well as the temperament criteria, a certificate of good temperament, which shall be issued from a certified or practicing dog trainer or animal behaviorist, and training criteria, in which the pet assisted therapy facilitator and the family therapy pet learn to work as a team learning together to execute safely and effective interaction, which are accepted in the field, specifically other pet assisted animal facilitators, veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviorists and the state of Rhode Island.
(e) Access and transportation privileges are only extended while the family therapy pet is on the way to or actively participating in a program.
(f) The animal assisted therapy facilitator, an individual who has successfully completed or is in the process of completing an accepted pet assisted therapy program, shall be responsible for the control and safety of the pet, which is to include cleaning up and elimination of wastes, keeping the pet on a proper leash and collar, carrying a smaller animal in a travel crate, adhering to all standard rules, regulations, and laws within both the facility and the state of Rhode Island, and upholding an active insurance policy that will cover an unforeseen mishap and/or accidental occurrence which may result in causing property damage and/or personal injury while actively participating in a program.
Rhode Island State Law Title 39 Chapter 2 Section 13
TITLE 39 Public Utilities and Carriers CHAPTER 39-2
Duties of Utilities and Carriers
§ 39-2-13 Admission of guide dogs. – 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, and when riding on any bus or other public utility or common carrier, engaged in the transportation of passengers or when riding in any elevator in this state where a landlord has the elevator operated for the use of his tenants and their visitors, or while in any building in this state open to the public, may keep the animal in his or her immediate custody; and the person shall not be required to pay any charge or fare, for or on account of the transportation thereon of him or herself and any dog so accompanying him or her, in addition to the charge of fare lawfully chargeable for his or her own transportation; provided, however, the provisions of this section shall not apply to railroad sleeping, parlor, club, buffet, or lounge cars.
SECTION 34-37-4: Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act
see subsection (e) (2): ""animal specifically trained by a CERTIFIED ANIMAL TRAINING PROGRAM"
(e) An owner may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when those accommodations may be necessary to afford an occupant with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
(2) 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 provided for in this section, and shall not be required to pay extra compensation for the guide dog or other personal assistive animal, but shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by a guide dog or other personal assistive animal. For the purposes of this subsection a "personal assistive animal" is an animal specifically trained by a certified animal training program to assist a person with a disability to perform independent living tasks.