New Jersey Senate Bill 1013 will be considered by the Senate Economic Growth Committee on Thursday September 29, 2016. The AKC is concerned with many aspects of the bill, and urges all concerned dog owners in New Jersey, especially purebred dog fanciers and enthusiasts, to request that the members of the committee amend the bill as recommended below to ensure that responsible dog owners and handlers are not unreasonably and unnecessarily impacted.
The AKC is a strong advocate for the heath and wellbeing of all dogs. We support effective measures to promote the humane treatment of all dogs, including providing an adequate and nutritious diet, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsible human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior. Dogs kept in enclosures should be protected from harsh weather conditions, and provided appropriate food, water, and care.
We are concerned, however, that as currently written, parts of SB 1013 are overly vague, burdensome and impractical. They may be potentially harmful to dogs that are travelling or at dog shows. We are also concerned that the measure fails to recognize that responsible, expert owners know what is best for their dogs and have the best interests of their dogs at heart.
AKC is deeply concerned with the following provisions in Senate Bill 1013. We are asking residents and anyone who shows a dog in New Jersey to join the AKC in asking for amendments to the following five areas of concern:
1. Adding improperly tethering a dog, confining a dog, or failing to provide proper shelter for a dog, to New Jersey’s animal cruelty statute. In isolation, this provision appears reasonable; however, in concert with the bill’s additional vague and onerous provisions (noted below), many historically accepted care practices, especially those used by fanciers and enthusiasts at AKC and other dog events, could be considered cruel practices. Furthermore, this specific provision is unnecessary as New Jersey already has cruelty laws that address cruel treatment regardless of the specific circumstances of that crime.
2. Allowing people to temporarily confine a dog in a carrier/crate only for the purpose of travel, provided that the dog’s head cannot touch the ceiling of the carrier/crate when in a normal standing or seated position. Without further clarification, this could reasonably be interpreted by enforcement officials to prohibit the use of travel crates at dog events in New Jersey or by New Jersey dog owners in their own homes. We urge the committee to amend this provision to allow the responsible use of travel crates in more instances than travel alone.
3. Describing the inside of a vehicle as an improper shelter if a dog is kept therein in a manner and for a length of time that a person should reasonably know poses an adverse risk to the dog’s health or safety. Without further clarification, this provision could be interpreted to prohibit dogs from being kept in vehicles, including motor homes. Such vehicles are equipped to provide continuous climate-controlled conditions that protect the health and safety of animals kept therein. We recommend this provision be made clearer to include performance-based conditions standards to ensure that fanciers and enthusiasts are allowed to continue to appropriately and safely maintain dogs inside of vehicles while traveling to/from and at events.
4. Defining as improper shelter any structure with a floor consisting of wire or chain-link or having openings through which a dog’s paw can pass. The AKC’s Care and Conditions of Dogs policy, which applies equally to all dogs, permits the use of wire flooring if comprised of a material featuring a protective coating, be of an appropriate size to prevent injury (especially to feet). If wire is used, it must be kept in good condition, and a solid platform of sufficient size should be provided to allow the dog to attain solid footing and offer space for resting. We encourage any new flooring requirements to be in line with these standards.
5. Making it unlawful for a person to confine a dog in an area or space of less than 100 square feet for more than 10 hours. If confined in less than 100 square feet for 10 hours, the owner must provide at least two hours of continuous access to at least 50 square feet of additional space. We believe that, as currently worded, this recommendation does not take into account generally-accepted care practices used when animals are in transport or at event locations. Traditionally, dogs at events are humanely kept in properly-sized travel creates and, in addition to when competing, provided with ample opportunities for exercise throughout each day. We encourage SB 1013 be amended to continue to allow these humane confinement practices.
Other provisions of SB 1013 include:
- Allowing the practice of temporarily tethering dogs under certain conditions. Tethers must be attached to properly-sized buckle-type collars, with tethers that are plastic- or vinyl-coated wire cable or metal chain no more than ¼-inch thick and at least 12 feet in length. Tethers must use swivels on both ends to prevent twisting. Those who tether must ensure that a dog cannot reach any life- or health-threatening object or location. Tethered dogs must be provided with continuous access to water if tethered for more than 30 minutes. No outdoor tethering can occur between 11PM and 6AM, or under adverse weather conditions for more than 30 minutes.
- Requiring that whenever a dog is outdoors for more than 30 minutes under adverse weather conditions, the owner must provide continuous access to proper shelter.
- Providing minimum standards for proper shelters, including adequate ventilation, access to water in liquid form, natural or artificial diurnal lighting cycles, sufficient space to allow a dog to turn in a full circle and lie down including at least three inches of head space, cleanliness requirements, and being of sound construction and remaining upright; and during adverse weather conditions, is enclosed with a roof, walls, a floor that is not the ground, a windbreak, adequate insulation, dry bedding, and adequate shade.
- Allowing for enforcement officials to immediately take custody of a dog they believe, based on their own determination of probable cause, is at risk of imminent harm. The bill also requires courts to order the forfeiture of ownership if it believes the dog health or safety is threatened through continued ownership by a defendant, and allows enforcement agencies to petition a court to have dog’s ownership forfeited if the defendant is found guilty.
- Requiring a defendant found guilty to pay costs incurred by a shelter in caring for a seized dog, from the date it was initially taken until final disposition of the case.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
New Jersey’s purebred dog fanciers and enthusiasts, and all responsible dog owners, are encouraged to contact the members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee. Respectfully urge them to amend SB 1013 in line with the above recommendations (in bold, above) prior to passage.
State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, Committee Chairman – SenLesniak@njleg.org
State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Committee Vice Chair – SenCruzPerez@njleg.org
State Senator Joseph M. “Joe” Kyrillos – SenKyrillos@njleg.org
State Senator Steven V. Oroho – SenOroho@njleg.org
State Senator Jim Whelan – SenWhelan@njleg.org
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will continue to provide updates on SB 1013 as necessary. For the latest information on SB 1013, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AKC is concerned with many aspects of the bill, and urges all concerned dog owners in New Jersey, especially purebred dog fanciers and enthusiasts, to request that the members of the committee amend the bill as recommended below to ensure that responsible dog owners and handlers are not unreasonably and unnecessarily impacted.