Wednesday, January 8, 2020
With one week left of the current legislative session, New Jersey Senate Bill 3322, an “animal advocates” bill that was recently amended on the floor of the State Senate to include more significant anti-ownership provisions, is being fast tracked. The bill is now scheduled for a floor vote tomorrow, Thursday, January 9, 2020.
It is of utmost importance that all New Jersey residents concerned with the impact of animal rights ideologies on property rights and public health contact their State Senator immediately to:
- Express strong opposition to S.3322 as amended, and
- Respectfully request the State Senate to more closely study the potential unintended legal consequences this bill could establish, including the detrimental impact on the rights and responsibilities of animal owners, prior to acting on this or any similar measure.
Talking points in opposition to S.3322:
- The American Kennel Club abhors any type of cruel treatment of or negligent injury to animals and supports full enforcement of existing federal and state law. However, the AKC is concerned that the creation of court-appointed animal advocates as provided in amended S. 3322 will result in legal and pragmatic issues regarding who is responsible for an animal, and will ultimately impact the ability and rights of pet owners to freely choose the most appropriate course of care and treatment for their pets.
- Providing third-party advocates in a legal dispute is usually reserved for protecting the interests of minors or other people lacking legal capacity. By providing similar advocates for animals, the measure may implicitly yet fundamentally impact the legal status of animals in the state. AKC believes the State of New Jersey is already capable of fairly adjudicating animal cruelty and other animal issues without potentially jeopardizing the current legal status of animals and without involving outside organizations and interests to influence the adjudication of individual cases. Current state law, which does not confuse the roles of animal owners and the government, is preferable because it does not create unintended consequences that will infringe upon dog owners’ rights.
- Many concerned with animal welfare have expressed a need for better enforcement of the state’s animal cruelty laws. We agree, but also recognize that an advocate in court will not impact the ability of law enforcement officials to actually enforce the law. Instead of creating animal advocates and potentially tying up court dockets, we encourage the legislature to find ways to ensure greater enforcement of current laws against those who harm animals. Furthermore, those already empowered to work in New Jersey’s justice system, like judges, prosecutors, and social service personnel, are better situated to address problematic behavior. As part of judicial procedure that reacts to criminal behavior, we believe that animal advocates as provided for in S.3322 would play no part in preventing animal cruelty or negligence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
All New Jersey residents are strongly encouraged to contact State Senate President Steve Sweeney and their elected State Senator and respectfully urge them to not advance S.3322 as currently worded.
State Senator Steve Sweeney, Senate President
Gloucester County District Office
935 Kings Highway, Ste. 400
West Deptford, NJ 08086
Phone: (856) 251-9801
Salem and Cumberland Counties District Office
199 East Broadway
1ST Floor, Ste. G
Salem, NJ 08079
Phone: (856) 339-0808
To find your New Jersey State Senator, go to https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp.
While there are currently no Assembly committee hearings scheduled for the remainder of the session, concerned New Jersey residents should be prepared to act quickly should the bill be passed by the Senate and be considered in the Assembly. AKC Government Relations will provide additional information on S.3322 and any additional end-of-session news as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.