Animal Control

The Animal control officer is responsible for enforcing all state laws and town ordinances involving domesticated animals in the Town of Portsmouth. She is also responsible for the pick up of stray animals and trying to locate their owners. When a domestic animal doesn't have a town license or other identification the animal is brought to the Potter Shelter in Middletown until the owner claims it. The animal will only be released after the owner licenses the animal.

The Animal Control Officer can be reached at (401) 643-0136.

Dog Licenses


All residents who have dogs must have them licensed through the Town Clerk's Office at Town Hall. Rhode Island State Law states that dog licenses must be renewed during the month of April every year. The licensing year is May 1 through April 30 and the license fee is $8 per dog. If the dog is licensed after April 30th, a late fee of $20 is charged. Application

For residents that are new to town or have a new dog joining the family, licensing is required within a month of moving to town or getting a new dog. A new puppy can be licensed with in one month of the rabies vaccine being given. 

Rabies Vaccination Certificate Required
A valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate must be presented at the time of licensing. The vaccination must be current and valid into the licensing year. No more than three dogs are allowed at any residence.

Message from the Animal Control Officer


The American Red Cross does not allow pets in their emergency shelters, therefore arrangements need to be made in advance to ensure your pet's safety. The Potter League has a free brochure called: "Disaster Planning for Your Animals," which is available at the Potter League, 87 Oliphant Lane, Middletown, RI 02842 or it can be downloaded from the Potter Animal Shelter website. This brochure contains vital information for you and your pet to prepare for a disaster.

You can find pet friendly motels in the area by accessing Petswelcome.

Helpful Hints


Some key points to remember:
  • Make sure your animal is wearing up-to-date ID tags.
  • Have a current photograph of your pet(s).
  • Have veterinary records handy with evidence of up-to-date immunizations.
  • Include the name and phone number of your vet.
  • Written instructions for feeding, medical, or behavioral problems.
  • Don't forget to bring along your pet's favorite toy to reduce stress.
  • Remember food, water and medications for the trip.
  • Have a plan and if you need to leave the island, leave early. (Consider bridge closings, gas in your vehicle, traffic and travel time.)
  • Find a place that will accommodate you and your pet(s). (Make arrangements to stay with family, friends, in a hotel or motel.)
  • Keep a check on the weather by using radio, television or newspapers.
Keep in mind that you are on Aquidneck Island and that all three bridges could be closed during a major event. Travel might be restricted when winds originating from directions perpendicular to the bridges are recorded in excess of 58 miles per hour. Closure of the bridges to all traffic will be considered if winds increase to a sustained 69 miles per hour in the above specified directions.

The more advance planning you do, the safer you and your pets will be.