On Thursday, May 12, the Township Committee of East Amwell Twp., New Jersey, will consider extensive changes to the Township’s animal ordinances. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that several elements of the draft raise issues of vagueness, are overbroad, or violate due process. All concerned residents are strongly encouraged to contact Township officials to urge the proposal be amended prior to additional consideration.
AKC is concerned that:
- Proposed §53-2 (Running at large prohibited), would, in a plain reading of the section, ban dogs and other animals in public areas while with their owner. AKC recommends the section be amended to make clear that the prohibition would apply only if the requirements of §53-8 (Leashing of dogs and other animals) and §53-11 (Nuisances; disposal of pet wastes) are not met. Alternatively, the current language in §53-8 should be maintained as subsection A.
- Proposed §53-3 (Public nuisance) is overly broad by deeming any dog that barks, cries, whines, or howls as a public nuisance. AKC believes that §53-4 may be made more reasonable by clarifying that continuous barking, etc., for 15 minutes or longer may be deemed a public nuisance.
- Proposed §53-4, C, 2 (Impoundment; notice of seizure) requires clarification. As currently worded, it would allow the township’s animal control officer to cause an animal to be destroyed or offered for adoption seven days after seizure if, “The owner or person keeping or harboring the animal has claimed the animal and paid all expenses incurred by reason of its detention, including maintenance costs.” AKC believes that it is likely the intent of the drafters that the subpart applies to owners who fail to claim the animal and pay all expenses incurred, and requests clarification to that effect.
- Proposed §53-5 (Authority to enter premises) may allow unconstitutional violations of due process rights. As currently worded, the section gives broad power to the animal control officer to enter any premises to seize and impound any dog that they are in immediate pursuit of, except the premises of the animal’s owner if the owner is present and forbids the entry. Due process protections, including those that protect an individual’s property from unreasonable searches and seizures, apply to everyone, regardless of animal ownership status. The section should be amended to ensure that all property searches are conducted only under the parameters of reasonable search and seizure laws, including owner permission, securing a warrant, or an exigent exception.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Due to the serious concerns outlined above, it is imperative that concerned East Amwell Township residents contact local officials and respectfully request the proposed ordinance be held unless and until the drafting issues of vagueness and overbroad language, along with due process concerns, are addressed.
Mayor Mark Castellano
Deputy Mayor Tara Ramsey
John Mills, Twp. Committee Member
Jenna Casper-Bloom, Twp. Committee Member
Rick Wolfe, Twp. Committee Member
On emailed communications, please copy Krista Parsons, Acting Township Clerk, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concerned residents are also strongly encouraged to attend Thursday’s (5/12/22) meeting of the Township Committee. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7PM in the Court Room of the Municipal Building, 1070 Route 202/31, Ringoes, NJ 08551.
AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on East Amwell’s proposal as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.