Five animal welfare bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Daniel Benson, Gilbert Wilson, Pamela Lampitt and Bob Andrzejczak to crack down on animal cruelty were unanimously approved by a New Jersey Assembly panel on Thursday.
A-201, sponsored by Gusciora, Benson and Wilson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against anyone found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating the state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.
“As a humane society, we should not tolerate abuses against animals any more than we would against a person,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Sadly, there have been a number of high-profile animal abuse cases in recent years, a good number of which arise from domestic disputes, lending even more support for this legislation. Whether it’s indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals.”
A-1023, sponsored by Benson and Lampitt, would allow an animal welfare organization, animal rescue organization, or the operator of a foster home or shelter to take custody of an animal confiscated from its owner while animal cruelty charges are pending.
“This is an important step to help ensure that animals are protected during these sensitive times rather than neglected or discarded in a kill-shelter,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “There are many great animal welfare and rescue organizations out there that would love to provide a caring environment for animals that have been abused or neglected and we should take advantage of this to offer the best outcome for these animals.”
A-2938, sponsored by Andrzejczak, would permit a municipality that does not have a shelter to contract with an animal foster care service for collecting and caring for stray animals found within the municipality. Under the bill, such service must be maintained by a non-profit humane society or other similar association that has continuously engaged in animal foster care for at least one year and whose members or volunteers provide temporary shelter and care for animals pending their permanent adoption or admission to a pound.
A-2961, sponsored by Andrzejczak and Gusciora, establishes financial
penalties for failure to include a bittering agent in antifreeze, which is already required of such products sold in New Jersey.
A3381, sponsored by Gusciora, expands criminal and civil acts of animal cruelty to include the theft or release of a living animal or creature during an act of burglary. Violators found guilty would be subject to a fine of between $250 and $1,000, a jail term of up to six months, or both.
“We’ve seen a number of heartbreaking cases involving families whose pets have been killed, injured or gone missing as a result of a burglary,” said Gusciora. “For many individuals, pets are considered part of the family and can’t simply be replaced if stolen or lost. Even pets that are successfully reunited with their owners may suffer physical or emotional injuries as a result. Hopefully this bill will help prevent the theft or unlawful release of pets during a burglary.”
The bills were approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now await consideration by the full New Jersey Assembly.