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The New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider several dog-related proposals when it meets this Thursday, May 17, 2018.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages all concerned New Jersey residents contact the members of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and respectfully share any concerns they have.

BILLS OF CONCERN:
Assembly Bill 781 (By Assemblyman Andrzejczak, committee chairman) seeks to establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations.

The AKC agrees that anyone found guilty of cruelty should be punished appropriately, including being responsible for the care of animals seized.  However, we are concerned that A781 does not require courts to consider whether the defendant is able to pay, and that costs are a lien against the animal until all payments have been made.  Moreover, the bill mandates that the agency holding the animal shall not release it until all payments have been made, even in spite of a court order authorizing the defendant to resume care and control of the animal.  If payments are not made in the time allotted by the court, then the agency assumes permanent ownership of the animal.

AKC believes the provisions of this proposal disproportionately harm disadvantaged dog owners who may lack the resources to board one or multiple pets for months on end during a trial, particularly while also mounting a legal defense. Such owners could be forced to give up their animals before a verdict is reached, even if the court finds them not guilty. Further, A781 seems to assume the guilt of an individual before a conviction has been reached, and may legitimize frivolous accusations and harassment of breeders and pet owners by anti-breeder radicals.

For these reasons, the American Kennel Club requests that A781 not be passed as currently worded.  To ensure that individuals are not erroneously deprived of their property, A781 should require courts to determine a defendant’s ability to pay.  Additionally, individuals not found guilty should have security paid returned.

Assembly Bill 2318 (by Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle) seeks to provide immunity from civil and criminal liability for those who rescue an unattended animal from a motor vehicle under inhumane conditions.

The AKC believes that animals should never be left in vehicles when their health or safety is at risk. AKC appreciates the many reasonable requirements listed in this bill for those who remove animals from vehicles under these circumstances. We are concerned, however, that there is no recourse available for the owners if the animal was not actually in danger. This is especially a concern as instances of pet theft are on the rise. Furthermore, if an animal escapes or harms someone as a result of being removed from the vehicle, the owners could be held liable for the actions of that animal. A2318 should be amended to allow for protections for the owner in these situations.

OTHER DOG-RELATED BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED:
Assembly Bill 1334 would expand acts of animal cruelty to include theft or release of animals during burglary.  The AKC supports A1334.

Assembly Bill 3218 seeks to permit municipalities to contract with animal and humane societies that engage in animal foster care.

Assembly Bill 3274 would require institutions of higher education offer cats and dogs no longer used for educational, research, or scientific purposes to animal rescue organizations for adoption.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
New Jersey residents concerned with any of these proposals should contact the members of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and respectfully express their concerns.

Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, Committee Chairman – AsmAndrzejczak@njleg.org
School House Office Park
211 S. Main St.
Suite 104
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
(609) 465-0700

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, Committee Vice Chair – AsmHoughtaling@njleg.org
802 West Park Avenue
Suite 221
Ocean Twp., NJ 07712
(732) 695-3371

Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese – AsmCalabrese@njleg.org
613 Bergen Boulevard
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
(201) 943-0615

Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer – AsmDancer@njleg.org
405 Rt. 539
Cream Ridge, NJ 08514
(609) 758-0205

Assemblyman Parker Space – AsmSpace@njleg.org
One Wilson Drive
Suite 2B
Sparta, NJ 07871
(973) 300-0200

Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro – AsmTaliaferro@njleg.org
199 East Broadway
1st Floor
Suite G
Salem, NJ 08079
(856) 339-0808

Concerned New Jersey residents are also strongly encouraged to testify in person at the Thursday, May 17, meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which will take place at 1PM in Committee Room 15, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ 08608.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information on legislation pending in New Jersey, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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