Assembly Advances Burzichelli, Spencer & Fuentes Bill Known as “Patrick’s Law” to Prevent Animal Abuse & Neglect

Legislation Inspired by Newark Pitbull Who Was Nearly Starved to Death and Thrown Down a Garbage Shute

An Assembly panel on Monday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored on the Democratic side by Assembly members John Burzichelli, L. Grace Spencer and Angel Fuentes to crack down on animal abuse and neglect.

The bill (A-798) was inspired by the treatment of Patrick, a pit bull in Newark who was starved to an extremely emaciated condition, placed in a garbage bag, and dropped down a garbage chute in an apartment complex in the city. The dog is now recuperating and being cared for after a maintenance person in the building collecting garbage noticed movement in one of the garbage bags and found the dog still alive inside.

“Patrick’s case gripped our state because of the utterly inhumane treatment this innocent animal received,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “No living creature should ever have to be subjected to that. Hopefully this law will make anyone think twice before treating an animal in such a way.”

“Patrick’s case was heartbreaking and absolutely needless,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “It should never have come to this. “Whether it’s the inability to care for an animal or simply a complete lack of compassion, this type of inhumane treatment will not be tolerated.”

Specifically, the bill would make it a crime of the fourth degree for needlessly killing an animal or creature by depriving them of “necessary care” such as proper food, drink, shelter, or protection from the weather. Anyone found guilty of violating this provision would be subject to a fine ranging from $1000 – 3000, up to 18 months imprisonment or both.

“It was inspiring to see the outpouring of support Patrick received after being rescued and thankfully he’s doing better now,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It’s my hope that this bill will send a message loud and clear that we are not going to tolerate the utterly inhumane treatment of any living creature.”

The bill, along with A-3303, was one of two measures approved today to crack down on the inhumane treatment of animals. It was advanced by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.