In many ways, New Jersey has a pretty standard approach to animal welfare. When it comes to animal control, here's a simplification of the laws at work:
Dogs must be licensed; the metal registration tag must be worn by the dog
Evidence of rabies vaccine inoculation or certification of exemption must accompany the dog
Kennels, shelters, pet shops and pounds are required to carry operational licenses
Municipalities are required to retain certified animal control officers or services
Pounds and shelters must care for a possible stray pet and wait for its owner to claim it for a period of at least seven (7) days before euthanizing said animal (the law also outlines measures that must be taken in order to locate a pet owner, such as microchip scanning)
Animal control entities can confine animals that bite or pose the threat of spreading rabies
As for animal cruelty laws, here is a simplified list of acts that are punishable by law:
Inhumane slaughter of livestock and other animals (including but not limited to hypoxia and the use of neuromuscular blocking agents)
Cruel or inhumane work, animal carrying, using animals for weapons targeting, etc.
Fighting, or baiting animals to encourage fighting
Deliberate motorist hitting (or failure to report an accidental motorist hit)
Sale of dog or cat flesh, fur or hair
Product testing that does not comply with laws and statutes
Most of these rules and regulations are fairly common across the United States. But what - if anything - is New Jersey doing to further itself as a safe haven for pet owners and pets?
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked New Jersey as the ninth (9th) best state in the U.S. when it comes to the strength and comprehensiveness of our animal protection laws (as recent as 2015). Not too shabby! But we can certainly do better. As municipalities - and the animal organizations within them - strive to become No-Kill, ban the operation of puppy mills, and prevent the cruel form of mutilation known as cat declawing, NJ might climb higher in the ranks.
But there's still work to do. The NJ Legislature website lists by subject the proposed bills our leaders will consider during the multi-step process it takes for a bill to become a law in our state.
Here are some of the bills up for consideration and where NJ STRAYS stands on each:
A202 - Establishes certain practices as animal cruelty; prohibits animal cruelty violators from working with animals; requires registry and operating requirements for cat and dog breeders and animal rescue organizations
A347 / S1209 - Prohibits surgical declawing of cats and other animals.
A376 / S574 - Establishes Animal Cruelty Offender Registry; prohibits purchase, adoption, and breeding of animals by animal cruelty offenders.
A511 / S173 - Requires accountability of NJSPCA and county societies for prevention of cruelty to animals to Attorney General and county prosecutors, respectively.
A719 / S278 - Establishes NJ Animal Abuser Registry.
A1923 / S1093 - "Nosey's Law"; prohibits use of elephants and other wild or exotic animals in traveling animal acts.
A3133 - Establishes trunk fighting as animal cruelty offense and crime of the third degree.
A3762 / S2242 - Establishes animal cruelty offense of animal hoarding; requires mental health counseling for all animal cruelty offenders.
If you support any of these bills, reach out to the State Assembly-person who has sponsored it and tell them you agree! If we all work together - united in the state of NJ for the purposes of animal welfare - we can make our home safer for animals and humans alike.