Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Adam Taliaferro and Dan Benson to help protect pets against inhumane treatment is now law.
“Pet owners have a responsibility to care for their pets. That includes bringing their dogs indoors or providing adequate outdoor shelter during inclement weather,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “These animals are not immune from severe cold or hot weather. Keeping a dog outdoors under such conditions is just cruel and is now illegal.”
“Some people prefer to keep their dogs outside as guard dogs. That’s all well and good, but they have an obligation to ensure the dog has access to shelter during bad weather,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “A pet is entirely dependent on its owner for survival. This new law will help prevent such heartless behavior from going unchecked.”
“This type of disregard for a pet is not only callous; it is dangerous,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Subjecting an animal that you brought into your home to such harsh treatment is wrong. This law advocates for those pets that had the misfortune of ending up with the wrong individuals.”
“A distressed animal may not be able to speak, but it will let you know when it is troubled,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This type of apathy is not only cruel to the animal, but disruptive to neighbors who may want to step in, but are afraid to. This law will help ensure that pet owners who are indifferent to the well-being of their pets are held accountable.”
“Keeping an animal restrained to the point where their mobility is extremely limited, or leaving them outdoors regardless of the weather conditions is cruel and inhumane,” said Benson (D- Mercer/Middlesex). “This law makes it clear that such indifference amounts to animal cruelty and will not be tolerated.”
The new law (A-3152/3154/2426) makes it unlawful to leave any domestic companion animal outdoors unattended under adverse weather conditions, unless the pet is provided readily available access to proper shelter where the ambient temperature is properly and safely maintained above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit in accordance with any applicable local code, ordinance, or regulation. If the pet is provided readily available access to a basement or garage, these places must be properly ventilated.
The law also makes it unlawful to leave a pet outdoors when evacuation of the area has been recommended by state or local law enforcement due to weather or other emergency conditions. If possible, a pet should be evacuated with its owner. If evacuation with the owner is not an option, the pet must be:
- delivered to an animal kennel, shelter, or other suitable animal care facility, including, but not limited to, a facility provided by an animal rescue program; or
- secured indoors in an area as protective of the animal as possible under the circumstances. If a pet is secured in a basement or garage, the basement or garage shall be properly ventilated and reasonably safe from flooding.
The law also makes it unlawful for any person to cruelly restrain a dog. A person cruelly restrains a dog if the person:
- chains, ties, fastens, or otherwise tethers to a doghouse, tree, stake, pole, fence, wall, or other stationary object, whether outdoors or indoors, a dog which is a nursing female, a dog which is less than four months old, or any dog between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.; or
- uses a choke collar, prong collar, or any other type of collar or similar device other than a properly fitted harness or buckle-type collar on the dog, or uses a chain or other tether less than 15 feet in length, when chaining, tying, fastening, or otherwise tethering the dog to a doghouse, tree, stake, pole, fence, wall, or other stationary object, whether outdoors or indoors.
Any violation of this act would constitute failure to provide necessary care, which is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.
The measure was signed into law by the governor on Monday.