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Andrzejczak, Land, Benson, Holley & Mukherji Measure to Strengthen Animal Cruelty Laws Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Daniel R. Benson, Jamel Holley and Raj Mukherji to require animal abusers to pay the cost for caring for the animals they harmed was advanced by the General Assembly Thursday by a vote of 68-4-4.

The bill (A-781) would provide for the cost of care for animals involved in animal cruelty violations and establish a procedure for the alleged violator to pay for the care.
“The abusive treatment of animals is plain cowardice,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/ Atlantic/Cumberland). “Individuals who commit such acts should and will be held accountable for their actions. It’s time to strengthen New Jersey statutes and make perpetrators pay for their unspeakable mistreatment of animals.”

Specifically, the bill directs:

? the animal care facility at which the animal was impounded to issue, no later than seven days after admittance, a custodial care notice with the information required including an itemized accounting of the actual costs of caring for the animal during the first seven days of the impoundment and the projected costs of care for each animal for the next 30 days;
? the individual charged with these costs to pay the amount set forth in the notice and every 30 days after until the full and final disposition of the animal cruelty violation or request a court hearing to contest the reasonableness of the specified expenses;
? the animal care facility to assume ownership of the animal if no hearing is requested and the individual does not pay the expenses as required under the bill;
? upon assuming ownership, the animal care facility will be authorized to offer the animal up for adoption or take any other action as it would for any other impounded animal.

“Animals who are taken into custody after being abused require new homes, food and veterinary care that shelters often do not have the funds to provide,” said Land (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic).

“Requiring abusers to cover these costs will help ensure that animals have safe homes and, hopefully, act as a deterrent to animal cruelty.”
“Animal abuse is a serious offense and ought to be regarded as such,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We should hold abusers accountable for their cruel actions.”

“Anyone who commits an act of animal cruelty ought to face consequences,” said Holley (D-Union). “The cost of caring for and rehabilitating an animal that has been abused should be the responsibility of the offender.”

“Too often, shelters don’t have the resources to cover the cost of caring for animals sent to them as a result of animal cruelty violations,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “The person who committed the crime should have to pay, not a non-profit organization that may be struggling to make ends meet.”

In addition, the bill prohibits any impounded animal from being sold, euthanized, offered for adoption or otherwise disposed of by the shelter, pound, kennel or animal care facility if the owner pays for the expenses of care, unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the animal is experiencing intractable and extreme pain and is beyond any reasonable hope of recovery.

The bill was initially advanced by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on May 17 and now awaits further action by the Senate.