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Update: Friday, March 25, 2022

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate passed Senate Bill 981 without amendments.  The bill has already been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) remains opposed S.981 as currently worded, and continues to work to ensure that the bill’s lack of protections for co-owners and infringements on due process do not become law in New Jersey.  AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on S.981, including if the bill is scheduled for committee consideration, and all other New Jersey legislation that may impact dogs and their owners and breeders.  For more information, email AKC GR at


New Jersey Senate Bill 981 has been scheduled for consideration by the full Senate on Thursday, March 24, 2022.  It is crucial that responsible New Jersey dog owners contact their state senator now and urge them to not approve S.981 until the bill is amended to protect owners’ due process rights and ownership interests.

As previously reported by the American Kennel Club (AKC), S.981 seeks to establish problematic, extensive cost of care laws in New Jersey.  Click here to read a summary of S.981.


AKC shares concerns about the need to assure that local animal control agencies receive adequate public funding to achieve their public mandate.  However, such funding mechanisms must not undermine dog owners’ due process rights.  S.981 must:

  • Be amended to protect the interests of non-possessory co-owners.  As currently worded, S.981 would allow an animal care agency to take full ownership of an animal regardless of whether the animal is co-owned by an individual who was not in possession of the animal at the time of the alleged offense and therefore not responsible for the alleged treatment.
  • Ensure that dog owners are not forced to forfeit ownership of their animals if they are unable to pay for mandated costs without regard of whether they are ultimately found not guilty.  As currently worded, S. 981 creates a significant risk that individuals will be erroneously deprived of their property without appropriate due process protections.  Additionally, the bill could incentivize agencies to be motivated by financial self-interest in seeking forfeiture.
  • Explicitly limit assessed costs to those based on a daily public—not private—care rate and directly related to the basic care of the animals.  The bill currently provides for extensive costs to be claimed by an animal care agency.
  • Be amended to ensure that only medically-necessary surgical procedures are permitted to be performed on a seized animal.  Optional permanent alternation, such as spay/neuter surgeries, without the owner’s consent should not be permitted.

Please note that S.981 features updates to the state’s tethering laws.  AKC is not opposed to those changes.

AKC strongly encourages all New Jersey dog owners to contact Senate President Nicolas Scutari and their state Senator and respectfully urge them to vote against S.981 unless and until the bill is amended to address the ownership and due process concerns noted above.

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, Senate President
Ph: (908) 587-0404

To find who serves as your New Jersey state senator, go to

Senator James Beach, Asst. Maj. Leader – (856) 429-1572, SENBEACH@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Jon Bramnick – (908) 232-2073, SENBRAMNICK@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Anthony “Tony” M. Bucco – (973) 627-9700, SENBUCCO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Richard Codey – (973) 535-5017, SENCODEY@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Chris Connors – (609) 693-6700, SENCONNORS@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Kristin Corrado – (973) 237-1360, SENCORRADO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Nilsa Cruz-Pérez – (856) 541-1251, SENCRUZPEREZ@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Joseph Cryan – (908) 624-0880, SENCRYAN@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Sandra Cunningham, Pres. Pro Temp – (201) 451-5100, SENCUNNINGHAM@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (S.981 Sponsor) – (908) 757-1677, SENDIEGNAN@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Michael Doherty – (908) 835-0552, SENDOHERTY@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Edward Durr – (856) 443-7391, SENDURR@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Nia H. Gill – (973) 509-0388, SENGILL@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Vin Gopal, Dem. Conf. Chair (S.981 Sponsor) – (732) 695-3371, SENGOPAL@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Linda Greenstein, Asst. Maj. Leader – (609) 395-9911, SENGREENSTEIN@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Jim Holzapfel – (732) 840-9028, SENHOLZAPFEL@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Joseph Lagana – (201) 576-9199, SENLAGANA@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr. – (856) 232-6700, SENMADDEN@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Oroho, Rep. Leader – (973) 300-0200, SENOROHO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Declan O’Scanlon – (732) 444-1838, SENOSCANLON@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Joe Pennacchio – (973) 227-4012, SENPENNACCHIO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Vince Polistina – (609) 677-8266, SENPOLISTINA@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Nellie Pou, Maj. Caucus Chair – (973) 247-1555, SENPOU@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Ronald L. Rice – (973) 371-5665, SENRICE@NJLEG.ORG
Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Majority Leader – (973) 484-1000, SENRUIZ@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Nicholas J. Sacco – (201) 295-0200, SENSACCO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Paul A. Sarlo, Dep. Maj. Leader – (201) 804-8118, SENSARLO@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Holly Schepisi – (201) 666-0881, SENSCHEPISI@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Robert Singer – (732) 987-5669, SENSINGER@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Troy Singleton, Maj. Whip – (856) 234-2790, SENSINGLETON@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Bob Smith – (732) 752-0770, SENBSMITH@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Brian P. Stack – (201) 721-5263, SENSTACK@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Jean Stanfield – (609) 667-7360, SENSTANFIELD@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Michael Testa – (609) 778-2012, SENTESTA@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Samuel Thompson – (732) 607-7580, SENTHOMPSON@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Shirley K. Turner – (609) 323-7239, SENTURNER@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Joseph F. Vitale – (732) 855-7441, SENVITALE@NJLEG.ORG
Senator Andrew Zwicker- (732) 823-1684, SENZWICKER@NJLEG.ORG


Click here to read AKC’s Due Process Protections for Dog Owners position statement.
Click here to view our new brief animated explainer video on “cost of care” legislation.
Click here to view talking points in AKC’s new one-page flyer on “cost of care” legislation.
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AKC Government Relations will continue to provide updates on S.981 and other pending New Jersey Legislation as developments warrant.  For more information, email