NJ Bill S2923 - AWFNJ’s Letter to Govenor Christie

August 25, 2011

The Honorable Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

RE: Bills S2923 – Request to Conditional Veto

Dear Governor Christie:

The Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey (AWFNJ), a collaboration of animal sheltering and welfare organizations and the general public in New Jersey is writing to you today to respectively request that you conditionally veto S2923 currently awaiting your signature. S2923 establishes a pilot program for spay/neuter, but will also negatively rewrite the current shelter impoundment language, endangering the lives of countless homeless animals in this state.

First, we applaud the legislature’s efforts to increase the number of shelter animals that are spay/neutered. However, as written this bill may put an unfair burden on already underfunded shelters to spay/neuter animals. Currently, animal shelters are the source of less than 30% of all companion animals. There is no similar requirement for the greater source of companion animals – family/friends, pet stores, “backyard” breeders or internet sales.

Paragraph (3), subsection d., section 2 allows an animal to be euthanized before the end of the
seven-day state mandated holding period if “the age, health, or behavior of the animal warrants euthanizing it before seven days has elapsed.” The AWFNJ believes this language will now supersede the seven-day holding requirement. Should that occur, our concern is that this change will allow feral cats to be euthanized immediately and takes away the incentive for shelters to address feral cat populations in a non-lethal manner- which has been highly successful in the state of New Jersey.

Additionally, allowing early euthanasia of stray dogs and cats (as proposed in Section 16 d. (3) on page 4 of S2923) because of a subjective determination of its “adoptability” is contrary to long-standing New Jersey law, and would preclude owners of such pets from locating and reclaiming their animals and put countless other adoptable animals that could be transferred to rescue groups or adopted at risk.

In addition, the AWFNJ has concerns with the language that does not allow for euthanasia for aggression unless the animal comes through as a stray. As currently written a stray can be euthanized for age, health, or behavior prior to the mandated stray hold and no language clarifies what the degrees of those issues need to be or what process should be used to determine that a pet is too “old” or “healthy.” Shelter staffs have seen many older, young, or animals with special needs adopted and this current language would remove the protection that the state law currently affords these pets.

There is also no provision made for aggression, age, or health unless received pursuant to
paragraph 1 in S2923 that allows that a shelter that received an animal other than pursuant to paragraph 1 (stray impound) would need to place the animal up for adoption for at least seven days. We fear that shelters, as well as adopters, may be put at risk if a surrendered pet, which may be aggressive, is put up for adoption during the seven-day time frame as prescribed in the bill. There is also no provision for health that may result in an animal suffering the entire duration of the seven day hold.

Mandating a seven-day hold for surrendered animals that are extremely ill or aggressive also would result in additional expense to municipalities and shelters, as well as potentially causing overcrowding and increased euthanasia of adoptable animals.

After carefully reviewing the bill in its entirety, we find it contains contradictory clauses, making it virtually impossible to enforce.

The AWFNJ is willing to work with the legislature to help draft a bill that addresses government concerns as well as shelter issues in New Jersey. We encourage you to conditionally veto S2923 so that an effective bill that addresses shelter issues in all their complexities might be written.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our concerns. Thank you for your attention to this urgent request that you conditionally veto Senate Bill #2923.

Sincerely,

Niki Dawson, President
Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Call Governor Christie and ask him to conditionally veto bill S2923
Phone 609-292-6000

Email the Governor’s Office at:
http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/

NJ Assembly Passes A1633

May 6, 2011

A1633 Permits court to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders.

More information to come

S 1643 Requires all cats and dogs released from shelters and pounds be sterilized with certain exceptions, and establishes penalty for noncompliance.

October 13, 2010

SENATE, No. 1643

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MARCH 4, 2010

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester)

SYNOPSIS

     Requires all cats and dogs released from shelters and pounds be sterilized with certain exceptions, and establishes penalty for noncompliance.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

An Act concerning the sterilization of cats and dogs and supplementing Title 4 of the Revised Statutes.

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

     1.    a.  (1) Notwithstanding any law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no cat or dog shall be released from a shelter or pound in the State unless it has been sterilized, except if an owner of a cat or dog who is reclaiming the cat or dog submits an exemption application to the shelter or pound with the required documentation pursuant to subsection b. of this section, or after submitting an exemption application, submits the required documentation as provided for under subsection c. of this section.  No provision of this section shall be construed to require the shelter or pound to sterilize a cat or dog unless it is being reclaimed, adopted, or otherwise released from the custody of the shelter or pound.

     No cat or dog received at a shelter or pound that has a registration, license or any other type of identification tag shall be sterilized until the cat or dog has not been claimed after being at the shelter or pound for seven days.  If the seven days elapse between the date that the owner of the cat or dog has submitted an exemption application without the required documentation and the date on which the owner returns with the required documentation, the cat or dog shall not be sterilized until the owner fails to comply with the provisions of subsection c. of this section.  The shelter or pound shall notify any owner seeking to reclaim a cat or dog of the requirements and the provisions of this subsection and subsections b. and c. of this section, in writing and at the time that the owner first seeks to reclaim the cat or dog.

     (2)   If a person reclaiming or adopting a cat or a dog from a shelter or pound does not obtain an exemption described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, the shelter or pound may charge the person for the cost of sterilizing the cat or dog prior to its release, up to a maximum payment of $100.

     b.    Any owner reclaiming a cat or a dog from a shelter or pound who expressly does not wish the cat or dog to be sterilized, shall, at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, submit an exemption application, provided by the shelter or pound, with one of the following:

     (1)   documentation that the cat or dog has been shown in the past 12 months and is registered as an American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association show animal, or a show animal of any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services;

     (2)   documentation from a licensed veterinarian that sterilizing the cat or dog would be detrimental to the health of the cat or dog, or that the cat or dog is too young to be sterilized properly;

     (3)   documentation of the American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association requirements that are inconsistent with the sterilization of the cat or dog, or such documentation from any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services; or

     (4)   documentation that the owner is a professional licensed breeder registered with the American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association, or any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

     c.     If the owner does not have the documentation required under subsection b. of this section at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, the owner shall return with the required documentation within seven days after submitting the exemption application, or by such time as otherwise agreed to by the shelter or pound,  and reclaim the cat or dog without the cat or dog being sterilized.

     d.    Any shelter or pound failing to sterilize a cat or dog pursuant to the provisions of this act, shall be liable to a penalty not to exceed $100 for each such unsterilized cat or dog released.  Penalties shall be collected by the municipality in which the shelter or pound is located in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The Superior Court and the municipal court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999.”  All penalties collected pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited into a special account created by the municipality for use in municipal animal control and welfare programs.

     e.     The Department of Health and Senior Services may adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), any rules or regulations necessary for the implementation of the provisions and requirements of this section.

     2.    This act shall take effect on July 1 next following enactment.

STATEMENT

     This bill provides that no cat or dog may be released from a shelter or pound in the State unless it has been sterilized, except if an owner of a cat or dog who is reclaiming the cat or dog submits an exemption application to the shelter or pound with the documentation required under the bill or, after submitting an exemption application, the owner submits the required
documentation as provided under the bill. The required documentation is one of the following:

     (1)   documentation that the cat or dog has been shown in the past 12 months and is registered as an American Kennel Club (AKC) or Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) show animal, or a show animal of any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS);

     (2)   documentation from a licensed veterinarian that sterilizing the cat or dog would be detrimental to the health of the cat or dog, or that the cat or dog is too young to be sterilized properly;

     (3)   documentation of the AKC or CFA requirements that are inconsistent with the sterilization of the cat or dog, or such documentation from any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the DHSS; or

     (4)   documentation that the owner is a professional licensed breeder registered with the AKC or CFA, or any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the DHSS.

     If the required documentation is not provided, the cat or dog must be sterilized before it is reclaimed or adopted.  The shelter or pound may charge the person reclaiming or adopting the cat or dog for the cost of sterilization, up to a maximum of $100.  The bill also provides that the shelter or pound is not required to sterilize a cat or dog unless it is being reclaimed, adopted, or otherwise released from the custody of the shelter or pound.

     Under the bill, if the owner does not have the required documentation at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, the owner may return with the required documentation within seven days after submitting the exemption application, or at such time as otherwise agreed to by the shelter or pound, and reclaim the cat or dog without the cat or dog being sterilized.

     The bill further provides that no cat or dog received at a shelter or pound that has a registration, license or any other type of identification tag may be sterilized until the cat or dog has not been claimed after being at the shelter or pound for seven days.  If the seven days elapse between the date that the owner of the cat or dog has submitted an exemption application without the required documentation and the date on which the owner returns with the required documentation, the cat or dog could not be sterilized until the other provisions of the bill have been complied with.  The bill also requires that the shelter or pound notify any owner seeking to reclaim a cat or dog of the requirements and provisions of this bill, in writing and at the time that the owner first seeks to reclaim the cat or dog.

     The bill also makes any shelter or pound failing to sterilize a cat or dog liable to a penalty not to exceed $100 for any unsterilized cat or dog released.  Penalties would be collected by the municipality in which the shelter or pound is located in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999” and  deposited into a special account created by the municipality for use in municipal animal control and welfare programs.

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S648 Recodifies offenses against animals under State criminal code; increases degree of crime for certain offenses

January 17, 2010

S648 would codify under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, the State criminal code, the offenses concerning animal cruelty that are currently codified under Title 4 of the Revised Statutes.  In some cases, the bill also increases the penalties for an offense.  

Because of this recodification in another section of State law, the sections of law in Title 4 that pertain to these crimes would be repealed by the bill.  Finally, the bill provides for the adjudication of offenses committed on or before the effective date under the sections of law that would be repealed.

Primary Sponsor: Andrew R. Ciesla

January 12, 2010 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S548 Revises law concerning disposition of assets of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals that has dissolved or has had its charter revoked, canceled, or suspended

January 17, 2010

S548 would revise the law concerning the disposition of assets of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (county society) that has dissolved or has had its charter revoked, canceled, or suspended.  

Specifically, this bill would:   
 (1) require each county society to provide in its bylaws for the disposition, after payment of any outstanding debts, of its assets should it dissolve or have its charter revoked, canceled, or suspended for any reason; (2) provide that if a county society dissolves or has its charter revoked, canceled, or suspended for any reason, the assets of the county society would be disposed of as provided by the applicable bylaws of the county society adopted for that purpose as required by the bill; and (3) provide that the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have (a) no claim whatsoever to the assets of any county society, and (b) no authority to determine the disposition of the assets of any county society that has dissolved or has had its charter revoked, canceled, or suspended for any reason. 

The bill further requires that the bylaws of a county society designate the Coalition of County SPCAs to distribute any assets of a county society that has had its charter revolved, canceled or suspended to an appropriate entity or entities within the same county with a similar mission or purpose of promoting the interests of, and protection and caring for, animals.

Primary Sponsor: Sandra B. Cunningham

January 12, 2010  Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S539 Establishes crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network; amends RICO to add leader of a dog fighting network

January 17, 2010

S539 would establish the new crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network.  Currently, N.J.S.A.4:22-24 prohibits animal fighting in general.  This bill would also add the crime of leader of a dog fighting network to the list of offenses considered “racketeering activity” under New Jersey’s anti-racketeering law (RICO).    

A person would be guilty of dog fighting if he knowingly: (1) keeps, uses, or is connected with or interested in the management of, or receives money for the admission of  a person to, a place kept or used for the purpose of fighting or baiting an dog; (2) owns, possesses, keeps, trains, promotes, purchases, breeds or sells a dog for the purpose of fighting or baiting that dog; (3) for amusement or gain, causes, allows, or permits the fighting or baiting of a dog; (4) permits or suffers a place owned or controlled by that person to be used for the purpose of fighting or baiting a dog; (5) is present and witnesses, pays admission to, encourages or assists in the fighting or baiting of a dog; or (6) gambles on the outcome of a fight involving a dog.  Dog fighting would be a crime of the third degree.  A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.  

This bill would also require the court to order the seizure and forfeiture of any dogs used for dog fighting or baiting.  The bill would also permit, in certain circumstances, the court to seize other animals or property in the person’s possession, and prohibit the person from possessing animals in the future.   

A person would be guilty of leader of a dog fighting network offense if he conspires with others in a scheme or course of conduct to unlawfully engage in dog fighting as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of at least one other person.  “Financier” would mean a person who, with the intent to derive a profit, provides money or credit or other thing of value in order to finance the operations of dog fighting.  Leader of a dog fighting network would be a crime of the second degree.  A crime of the second degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to ten years 
or a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Under this bill “bait” would mean to attack with violence, to provoke, or to harass a dog with one or more dogs for the purpose of training the dog for, or to cause a dog to engage in, a fight with or among other dogs.  

The bill would also amend R.S.4:22-24, the statute concerning animal fighting in general, to include a similar definition of “bait” applicable to all animal baiting.  This definition would be added to provide consistency in the statutes.  

 The bill also provides that, notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8, a conviction of leader of a dog fighting network would not merge with the conviction for any offense which is the object of the conspiracy.  The bill further provides that it would not be a defense to a prosecution under this bill that the dog intended to be used for fighting was brought into or transported in this State solely for ultimate distribution or sale in another jurisdiction; nor would it be a defense that any profit was intended to be made in another jurisdiction.  Adding leader of a dog fighting network to the list of predicate offenses triggering the State’s anti-racketeering law targets the leaders of organizations that unlawfully breed, train, or sell dogs intended to be used for dog fighting. 

Primary Sponsor: Thomas H. Kean, Jr.
Primary Sponsor: Jeff Van Drew

January 12, 2010 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S303 Requires municipal court to hear certain violations of animal cruelty statutes within 14 days of the summons date

January 17, 2010

S303 requires that a person cited in violation of R.S.4:22-17 or subsections a. or c. of R.S.4:22-26 be issued a summons to appear in municipal court either (1) no later than 14 days after the date on which the summons is issued, or (2) on the next scheduled municipal court date in the event the municipal court convenes less frequently than biweekly.  The summons must specify an appearance date either (1) within the 14 days after the date on which the summons is issued, or (2) on the next scheduled municipal court date in the event the municipal court convenes less frequently than biweekly, and be signed by the clerk of the court.  

The bill also requires the case be placed on the docket for the municipal court for the appearance date on the summons.  R.S.4:22-17 and subsections a. and c. of R.S.4:22-26 are the State laws dealing with the criminal and civil penalties, respectively, for the overdriving, overloading, torturing and tormenting of animals, including the deprivation of necessary 
sustenance, unnecessarily or cruelly beating or otherwise abusing the animal, needlessly mutilating or killing the animal, and otherwise inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon the animal or unnecessarily failing to provide it with proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather. 

The Department of Health and Senior Services defines proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather in regulations codified in Title 29 of the New Jersey Administrative Code.

Primary Sponsor: Diane B. Allen

January 12, 2010 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S241 Creates crime of threatening the life of certain animals

January 17, 2010

S241 amends N.J.S.A.2C:29-3.1, which sets forth the penalties associated with inflicting harm or interfering with an animal owned or used by a law enforcement agency or a search and rescue dog.  Currently, that law provides: any person who purposely kills an animal owned or used by the police is guilty of a crime of the third degree; any person who purposely maims or otherwise inflicts harm upon an animal owned or used by the police is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree; and any person who interferes with any law enforcement officer using an animal in the performance of his official duties is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.  

This bill adds a provision to that law that any person who purposely taunts, torments, or threatens the life of an animal owned or used by the police would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

Primary Sponsor: Christopher Bateman

January 12, 2010 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S654 Directs DHSS to adopt regulations prohibiting overcrowding of animals in kennels, pet shops and other retail establishments; establishes penalties

January 17, 2010

S654 directs the Department of Health and Senior Services to review current regulations concerning the proper care and housing of animals, determine the proper care and housing for each species of animal sold by kennels, pet shops and any other retail establishments selling animals, and adopt rules and regulations providing for the proper care and housing of animals by kennels, pet shops and other retail establishments selling animals that prohibit the overcrowding of animals.

Primary Sponsor: Andrew R. Ciesla
Primary Sponsor: Anthony R. Bucco

January 12, 2010 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

S653 Prohibits sale of any dog by kennel, pet shop or other retail establishment without name, address and phone number of person providing dog thereto; establishes $500 fine for each violation

January 17, 2010

S653 prohibits the sale of any dog in the State by a kennel, pet shop, or other retail establishment that sells dogs unless the name, address and phone number of the person who provided the dog to the kennel, pet shop, or other retail establishment that sells dogs is provided to the person purchasing the dog at the time of sale.  If the dog was raised by the kennel, pet shop or other retail establishment that sells dogs, the bill requires that the name, address and phone number of the owner of the kennel, pet shop, or other retail establishment that sells dogs be provided to the person purchasing the dog. 

Finally, the bill provides that these requirements shall not apply to shelters, pounds or other nonprofit organizations that provide dogs to individuals, and any person found guilty of violating the act will be subject to a fine of $500 for each violation.

Primary Sponsor: Andrew R. Ciesla
Primary Sponsor: Anthony R. Bucco

January 12, 2010  Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.

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