Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation into law with the goal of protecting pets from being victimized by their owners.
The bill’s sponsors included Sen. Robert Singer (R-Monmouth and Ocean). The law addresses several cruel practices related to keeping a pet at a home, including exposure to adverse weather, improper tethering and inadequate shelter, according to a press release issued by Singer.
“Pet ownership can provide a lifetime of love and companionship, but it comes with a lot of responsibility,” Singer said. “If someone can’t follow these simple rules and treat their pets humanely on their own, we need strong rules to enforce them and the ability to rescue animals from cruelty.”
Ross Licitra, the chief of police-executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA, said, “The Monmouth County SPCA is very pleased with the passage of this new bill. Anything that will assist us in keeping our animals safe is always a great thing.
“This new bill will give our (enforcement officers) an added extra tool when dogs are kept in cruel situations, especially in the winter. As the county enforcement agency responsible for the protection of all animals in Monmouth County, we receive hundreds of calls each year about dogs being left outside in extreme conditions.
“Although most pet owners are very responsible and do what is right for their pets, we do have a certain amount of people who have no regard for their animals’ health and well being. We actively pursue these people and make certain we do all we can within the law to make certain the animals under their care are safe,” Licitra said.
S-1640 establishes penalties for violations and permits humane societies and municipalities to take custody of an animal that has been subjected to cruel treatment after providing due warning to its owner, according to the press release.
Under the legislation, it is unlawful to expose any pet or service animal to adverse weather conditions such as temperatures colder than 33 degrees or hotter than 89 degrees for more than 30 minutes unless the animal has continuous access to proper shelter. S-1640 also makes it unlawful to cruelly restrain a dog.
In addition, the law provides that when state or local officials issue an order of evacuation due to weather or other emergency conditions, the owner must make every attempt to evacuate his pets and not leave their animals indoors or outdoors while unattended or tethered, according to the press release.