To more accurately and appropriately determine which dogs are dangerous and vicious enough to truly require euthanization, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Carol Murphy and Benjie Wimberly to change language in current law and potentially protect the lives of hundreds of dogs in New Jersey was signed into law Tuesday by Governor Phil Murphy.
“The decision to end a life, whether that life is human or of another species, is an incredibly difficult one, and one which should warrant appropriate reasoning and rationale,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “While protecting the lives of our residents is our first and foremost priority, there is no need to unnecessarily euthanize a living creature based on a mere suspicion of potential future danger when there may not be enough evidence to suggest that the dog is truly that dangerous.”
Under current law, a municipal court is required to deem a dog vicious if there is clear and convincing evidence that the dog has engaged in dog fighting activities and the dog poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person.
The new law (formerly bill A-1822) removes the requirement for courts to deem a dog vicious just for having participated in dog fighting activities, while maintaining the language requiring a dog to be designated as vicious if they pose a serious threat to a person.
“New Jersey is one of only nine states with laws that allow euthanization of dogs who participated in dog fighting, without any consideration for the dog’s actual behavior, according to the ASPCA,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “It isn’t fair or humane to punish a dog so severely if they may not pose a real threat to other animals or people. With this new law, the determination process of euthanization will be far more just.”
“It’s heartbreaking to think that undeserving dogs have been euthanized in New Jersey when rehabilitation may have been a better option,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passiac). “Fortunately, those days are over. Hundreds of canine lives will be saved under this new law, and they’ll have a chance to find forever, caring homes.”
Additionally, under current law, a municipal court is required to designate a dog as potentially dangerous if there is clear and convincing evidence that the dog both severely killed another domestic animal and poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person or another domestic animal.
This new law removes the provision mandating that courts deem a dog to be potentially dangerous for unprovoked attacks on domestic animals, while maintaining the requirement that dogs be considered potentially dangerous if there is clear and convincing evidence that the dog has been trained, tormented, badgered, baited or encourage to engage in unprovoked attacks on people only.