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New Jersey Senate Bill 2868, which seeks to create court-appointed legal advocates for animals, has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, December 14, 2020.

All New Jersey dog owners are urged to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today to respectfully request:

(1) S.2868 not be approved, and

(2) that the committee more closely study the legal consequences this bill will create, including the detrimental impact on the rights and responsibilities of animal owners.

Please scroll down for talking points. 


S.2686 is similar to legislation considered in the last legislative session.  However, section 1 of S.2868  features new legislative findings that justify providing to animals certain policy protections and considerations traditionally reserved for humans.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports condemnations of animal cruelty. However, we believe that much of the introductory language in S.2868 is an explicit attempt to undermine the traditional legal classification of animals as property and to limit the rights of animal owners.

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 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.  


  • I join the American Kennel Club in abhorring any type of cruel treatment of or negligent injury to animals, and in supporting full enforcement of existing federal and state law.
  • I am extremely concerned that S.2868 features animal rights language and reflects the radical animal rights agenda, rather than focusing on positive efforts to improve the welfare of animals.  Not to be confused with animal welfare, animal rights is a radical philosophy that aims to end human use or ownership of animals in any way, even as companions.  For animal rights groups, the ultimate goal is not to improve the wellbeing of animals, but to stop breeding and human interaction with animals.  Animal rights groups typically utilize media and legislation like S.2868 to create false narratives to incrementally change perceptions about the human use of animals, and to advance the goal of ending animal use and ownership.
  • Providing third-party advocates for animals in a legal dispute is a radical departure from current, mainstream legal thinking. Third-party advocates are currently reserved for protecting the interests of minors or other people lacking legal capacity.  As currently worded, S.2868 could impact the fundamental legal status of animals in the state, and undermine the rights and responsibilities of owners to provide appropriate care for their animals. Moreover, it does nothing to improve the wellbeing of animals.
  • I believe the state is already capable of fairly adjudicating animal cruelty and other animal issues without assigning human rights to animals and without involving outside organizations and interests to influence the adjudication of individual cases. Current state law does not confuse the roles of animal owners and the government and is preferable because it does not create consequences that undermine pet owners’ rights and responsibilities.
  • Instead of pursuing radical legal changes, we urge the state to focus on improving enforcement of the state’s animal cruelty laws. An advocate in court representing an animal will not improve the ability of law enforcement officials to actually enforce animal cruelty laws. A more likely outcome is tying up court dockets and sowing confusion. Instead, we encourage the committee to improve enforcement of current laws against those who harm animals. 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. 



Concerned New Jersey dog owners are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, express opposition to S.2868, and respectfully urge the Committee to not approve the bill.  Email the committee members listed below.  Please feel free to personalize the talking points provided above, to more fully explain to the committee how S.2868 would impact you as an animal owner.

Please be advised that due to the current public health emergency, the State House Annex remains closed to visitors and members of the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person, unless properly registered to testify on S2868 (information available on the committee’s webpage).  The public is encouraged to submit written testimony, which will be included in the record.

Email the entire committee:

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, Chair (Sponsor of S.2868)
(908) 587-0404

Senator Nellie Pou, Vice Chair
(973) 247-1555

Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman
(908) 526-3600

Senator Gerald “Gerry” Cardinale
(201) 567-2324

Senator Michael J. Doherty
(908) 835-0552

Senator Paul A. Sarlo
(201) 804-8118

Senator Troy Singleton (Co-Sponsor of S.2868)
(856) 234-2790

Senator Bob Smith
(732) 752-0770

Senator Brian P. Stack
(201) 721-5263

Senator Loretta Weinberg
(201) 928-0100

New Jersey residents are also strongly urged to express concerns with their own state senator.  To find out who represents you, search by your municipality at


AKC recognizes that S.2868 is sponsored by the chairman of the committee that will consider the bill, and that it will likely be approved.  However, we believe it is of utmost importance that objection to the bill be recorded and noted.

AKC will continue to provide updates on the consideration of S.2868.  For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at