Search Menu

New Jersey’s latest attempt at creating courtroom advocates for animals program, Assembly Bill 1965, has been scheduled for a hearing by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 14, 2022.  Although the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, is also the chairman of the Judiciary Committee(likely ensuring the bill’s approval), it is imperative that all concerned New Jersey dog owners contact the committee and respectfully urge it to not approve A.1965 as currently written.

Purportedly based on a novel 2016 Connecticut law, A.1965 is a reintroduction of legislation considered during the 2020-2021 legislative session.  However, A.1965 is significantly different from that Connecticut law, and represents a much more radical threat to animal ownership principles.

First, Connecticut law explicitly describes dogs as the personal property of their owners.  New Jersey law does not feature a similar explicit declaration.  AKC has repeatedly requested a similar amendment be added to New Jersey’s “lawyers for dogs” bills, but sponsors and the organizations pushing for the legislation have refused.

Second, Connecticut’s law allows an advocate only in cases involving dogs and cats.  A.1965 would apply to all animals, therefore making it much more expansive.

Third, unlike Connecticut’s law, A.1965 features legislative findings that justify providing to animals certain policy protections and considerations traditionally reserved for humans.

Of course, the American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports condemnations of animal cruelty, but we believe that much of the legislative findings in A.1965 is an explicit attempt to undermine the traditional legal classification of animals as property and to limit the rights of animal owners.

Moreover, the creation of court-appointed animal advocates is likely to result in legal and pragmatic issues regarding who is responsible for an animal, and will ultimately impact the ability of dog owners to freely choose the most appropriate course of care and treatment for their pets.

For these reasons, AKC strongly opposes A.1965 as currently written.  We believe A.1965 must be amended to remove the problematic findings in section 1 of the bill, and explicitly state in section 2 that the bill shall not impact the legal classification of animals as property.

For more background on this important issue, check out AKC’s Legal Status of Animals page in the Legislative Action Center.

Click here to read AKC’s Understanding the Difference Between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare.

Click here to read AKC’s Laws That Provide Court-Appointed Animal Advocates Could Undermine Animal Welfare.  

New Jersey residents are strongly encouraged to do the following:

  • Attend Monday’s Assembly Judiciary Committee and sign in as opposed to A.1965 or to testify against the bill. The meeting will begin at 130PM in Committee Room 12, 4th floor, State House Annex, 131 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608.  Click here for State House Annex access rules.
    Contact the members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the bill’s sponsors to respectfully request opposition to A.1965, and request the bill be amended to address the concerns outlined above. If you are a constituent, be sure to mention that when contacting the members.

Assembly Judiciary Committee:

Assemblymember Raj Mukherji, Chair (A.1965 Primary Sponsor)
433 Palisade Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07307
p (201) 626-4000
f (201) 626-4001

Assemblymember Carol A. Murphy, Vice Chair
504 Route 130 North, Suite 100
Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
p (856) 735-5334

Assemblymember Robert Auth (A.1965 sponsor)
350 Madison Avenue
Cresskill, NJ 07626
(201) 567-2324

Assemblymember Victoria A. Flynn
1715 Highway 35N, Suite 306
Middletown, NJ, 07748
(732) 856-9294

Assemblymember John F. McKeon
221 Main Street
Madison, NJ 07940
p (973) 377-1606
f (973) 377-0391

Additional A.1965 sponsors:  

Assemblymember Annette Quijano
985 Stuyvesant Avenue
Union, NJ 07083
p (908) 624-0880

Assemblymember Daniel R. Benson
3691-A Nottingham Way
Hamilton Square, NJ 08690
p (609) 631-0198
f (609) 631-0324

Assemblymember Anthony S. Verrelli
144 West State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
p (609) 571-9638

Assemblymember Verlina Reynolds-Jackson
144 West State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
p (609) 571-9638

Assemblymember Sterley S. Stanley
3 Stephenville Parkway
Suite 2D
Edison, NJ 08820
p (732) 548-1406
f (732) 548-1623

Assemblymember Britnee N. Timberlake
520 Main Street
Suite 1
East Orange, NJ 07108
p (973) 395-1166

Assemblymember Robert J. Karabinchak

Assemblymember Thomas P. Giblin
855 Valley Road
Suite 104
Clifton, NJ 07103
p (973) 779-3125
f (973) 779-3156

Assemblymember Sean T. Kean
1967 Route 34, Bldg. C Suite 202
Wall Township, NJ 07719
(732) 974-0400

AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on A.1965 and other pending New Jersey legislation as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC GR at