Legislation to Strengthen NJ Animal Cruelty Laws Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation to strengthen New Jersey’s laws against animal cruelty was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee, sponsored by Mercer County area Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Daniel R. Benson, as well as Assembly Democrat Raj Mukerji in Hudson County.

The first bill, A-2041, sponsored by Gusciora and Benson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against any person found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.

“As a humane society, we should not tolerate abuse against animals any more than we would against a person,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Whether it’s indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse, such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals.”

“So often, the only way to prevent an abused animal from being hurt even further is prohibiting all contact by the abuser,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “No one who has demonstrated a capacity to cause an animal harm should be given the opportunity to do so again.”

The second bill, A-2052, sponsored by Gusciora and Mukherji, would revise the definition of “necessary care” in Patrick’s Law to mean care sufficient to preserve the health and well-being of an animal, and, except for emergencies or circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the person responsible for the care of the animal, the provision of the following:  food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight; open or adequate access to drinkable water of an appropriate temperature in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy the animal’s needs; access to adequate protection from the weather, including an enclosed non-hazardous structure sufficient to protect the animal in which there is adequate bedding to protect the animal against cold and dampness; adequate protection for the animal from extreme or excessive sunlight and from overexposure to the sun, heat and other weather conditions; veterinary care to alleviate suffering and maintain health; and reasonable access to a clean and adequate exercise area.

“Patrick’s Law was an important step forward for animal welfare our state, and clarifying the requirements for responsible and lawful pet ownership can strengthen it,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Neglecting an animal by failing to provide basic necessities like proper food, water, shelter and room to move around is a form of abuse, and those who engage in it ought to face consequences.”

Both measures were advanced by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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