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Burzichelli, Spencer, Fuentes, McKeon, Albano & Andrzejczak Bill Package to Prevent Animal Abuse & Neglect Approved by Assembly

One Bill Was Inspired by Patrick, the Newark Pitbull Who Was Nearly Starved to Death and Thrown Down a Garbage Shute

The Assembly on Monday approved a two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, L. Grace Spencer, Angel Fuentes, John F. McKeon, Nelson Albano and Bob Andrzejczak to crack down on animal abuse and neglect.

The first bill (A-798), sponsored by Burzichelli, Spencer and Fuentes, received final legislative approval by a vote of 75-1 and now heads to the Governor’s desk. The legislation 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.”

“Patrick’s case was simply heartbreaking and anyone who commits such crimes should have the full weight of the law thrown at them,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “There is no place in our modern society for such inhumane treatment and disregard for any living creature.”

The second bill (A-3902), sponsored by Albano and Andrzejczak and approved by a vote of 78 to 0, would establish requirements concerning standards for the care of dogs in all pet shops licensed and operating in the state as a condition of pet shop licensure.

“There is a need to elevate the seriousness with which we address animal cruelty offenses because offenders too often receive minimal or no penalties for various offenses,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “We’ve evolved a great deal as a society over the last century and our laws pertaining to the treatment of all living things should reflect that.”

“Hopefully this bill will assist in rooting out some bad actors in the industry and improve the overall treatment and quality of life for the pets they house,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).

The second measure now awaits consideration by the Senate.