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New Jersey to Consider Significant Changes to Cruelty Laws on Thurs (2/2)

(Tuesday, January 31, 2012)

On Thursday, February 2, the New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider a measure that makes numerous changes to the state’s animal cruelty laws.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) abhors the mistreatment of animals and is concerned about the conditions in which some dogs are kept. As currently written, however, vague provisions in Assembly Bill 2039 could result in much confusion and potentially unintended consequences, such as the loss of ownership rights to all animals both now and in the future for any violation.

Responsible New Jersey dog owners are encouraged to attend the committee meeting on Thursday, and to also contact the members of the committee and express any concerns you have with this measure. Scroll down for committee meeting details and contact information.

AKC’s concerns with this bill include:

  • Elevation of many care and conditions violations to felonies, along with significantly increased minimum fines. While the AKC appreciates any effort to deter improper treatment of animals, the increase of penalties and fines will drastically impact targeted individuals without offering opportunities to remediate circumstances.
  • Vague definitions – Much of the language included in this bill is vague. For example, the various degrees of “bodily harm” included in the bill do not appear to provide exemptions for reasonable, responsible animal husbandry practices. Additionally, without further clarification, some definitions may have profound, negative impacts on AKC events.
  • Requirement that the Department of Health & Senior Services develop regulations – Within six months of the bill’s enactment, the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services is required to work with the state’s Department of Agriculture to revise regulations regarding the “sanitary conduct and operation of kennels, pet shops, shelters and pounds” and other care and conditions. The AKC is concerned that these provisions are not clearly spelled out, and that those affected and most experienced in this area appear to have little to no ability to participate in developing important animal care regulations.
  • No explicit protection for co-owners of dogs subject to forfeiture – Courts are empowered to order a person guilty of a cruelty violation to forfeit possession of dog; however, the bill does not provide for circumstances in which an animal may be owned by multiple individuals. To address such cases, the language should ensure that non-caretaker co-owners’ rights are protected with possession first reverting to them.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Concerned dog owners in New Jersey are strongly encouraged to attend the committee hearing on Thursday, February 2, and testify with your concerns on the bill.

New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
Thursday, February 2, 2012
2:00PM
Committee Room 12
4th Floor
State House Annex
125 W State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608

Concerned dog owners in the Garden State are also strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and respectfully request that AB 2039 not move forward without addressing their concerns.

Assemblyman Nelson T. Albano, Chair (Bill Sponsor)
21 North Main Street
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: 609-465-0700
Fax: 609-465-4578
E-mail: AsmAlbano@njleg.org

Assemblyman Gilbert L. Wilson, Vice-Chair
Audubon Commons Shopping Center
130 Blackhorse Pike, Suite D-3
Audubon, NJ 08106
Phone: 856-547-4800
Fax: 856-547-5496
E-mail: AsmWilson@njleg.org

Assemblyman Marlene Caride
(Postal and phone information not available)
E-mail: AswCaride@njleg.org

Assemblyman Robert D. Clifton
PO Box 10
Millstone, NJ 08535-8196
Phone: 732-446-3408
Fax: 732-446-3594
E-mail: AsmClifton@njleg.org

Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer
2110 West County Line Road
Jackson, NJ 08527-2049
Phone: 732-901-0702
Fax: 732-901-0587
E-mail: AsmDancer@njleg.org

For more information, contact the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs at taadeutsch@yahoo.com; or the AKC Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or e-mail doglaw@akc.org.