The New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee is scheduled to consider several dog-related bills on Thursday, May 31, 2018. The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages New Jersey residents to contact the committee members to respectfully share their views on the bills.
Senate Bill 381 – This bill seeks to prohibit those found to have violated state animal cruelty laws from owning, keeping, or harboring animals; and prohibits such individuals from licensing or registering a dog or cat. S.381 also allows for the seizure and confiscation of animals from people found to have violated the state’s animal cruelty laws. The bill also requires the state Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to publish an online list of persons who have been found to violated state animal cruelty laws, which is to be updated at least every 30 days.
Senate Bill 1209 – Sponsored by the committee Vice-Chair, this bill would prohibit a person from performing, or causing to be performed, the declawing or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat or other animal, unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. Those found to violate this provision would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both. A violator would also be subject to a civil penalty of between $500 and $2,000.
The AKC is concerned that S.1209 may impact the valid, humane, and common veterinary procedure of dewclaw removal on dogs, and requests the bill be amended to specifically provide an exception for that procedure.
Senate Bill 1230 – Sponsored by the committee Vice-Chair and the President of the Senate, S.1230 also seeks to direct the state Department of Health to establish an animal abuser registry. It also provides a process by which persons who have previously been convicted and persons who are newly convicted of a criminal animal cruelty violation are to be included on the abuser registry, and updates current law concerning those ineligible to be an animal control officer due to a conviction for an animal cruelty violation.
Senate Bill 1860 – Sponsored by the committee Chair, S.1860 would provide civil and criminal immunity to persons who in good faith enter a motor vehicle to rescue an animal left unattended therein under inhumane conditions adverse to the health or welfare of the animal, provided that the rescuer adheres to certain conditions, notice requirements, and procedures detailed in the bill.
The AKC is concerned that under such circumstances, S.1860 fails to protect the vehicle and animal owner if the good-faith actors are bitten or otherwise injured by their animal during the break in and subsequent release of the animal from the vehicle. The AKC is also concerned that the animal’s owner has no recourse should their animal be lost, stolen, or injured during or after the good-faith actor breaks into the vehicle.
Senate Bill 1923 – Sponsored by the committee Vice-Chair and a committee member, this bill seeks to review the state’s current law concerning vicious and potentially dangerous dogs. Concerning vicious dogs, the bill removes the requirement that a municipal court is required to declare a dog vicious if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dog has engaged in dog fighting and the dog poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person. S.1923 would continue to require municipal courts to declare a dog vicious if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dog killed a person or caused a person serious bodily injury. The bill also authorizes the court to order 1) the dog’s owner to comply with certain restrictions to protect the public that are at least as stringent as those imposed on potentially dangerous dogs; or 2) the dog to be euthanized in a humane and expeditious manner (as provided in current law).
S.1923 also provides additional exceptions from a dog being declared potentially dangerous, including: (1) causing bodily injury to a person who was committing or attempting to commit a crime or offense upon the owner or person with custody or control of the dog, or committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the owner or person with custody or control of the dog; (2) causing bodily injury to a person or a domestic animal who was abusing, assaulting, or physically threatening the dog or the dog’s offspring; or (3) causing bodily injury to a person who was intervening between two or more dogs engaged in aggressive behavior or fighting.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
New Jersey residents are encouraged to call or email the members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee and express their views on these bills.
State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Chair
Phone: (856) 541-1251
State Senator Troy Singleton, Vice-Chair
Phone: (856) 234-2790
State Senator Vin Gopal
Phone: (732) 695-3371
State Senator Steven V. Oroho
Phone: (973) 300-0200
State Senator Joseph Pennacchio
Phone: (973) 227-4012