JACKSON – In a 4-1 vote, the Jackson Township Council has adopted an ordinance that mandates the humane and ethical treatment of animals in the community.
During a meeting on Nov. 12, council Vice President Barry Calogero, Councilman Alex Sauickie, Councilman Andrew Kern and Councilman Ken Bressi voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance.
Council President Robert Nixon said he was respectfully voting “no” on the motion.
“I don’t know that it is necessary. I think everything that has been raised here tonight is already covered by state law. Everything that has been raised here tonight is something the Ocean County Board of Health has the authority to enforce,” Nixon said.
The ordinance was co-sponsored by Sauickie and Calogero. Sauicke said the goal of the ordinance is to provide protection for animals at a local level.
The ordinance protects hunts that are mandated and administered by the state.
Sauickie said the ordinance is another example of what the council members will continue to fight for, as they set an example for the prevention of animal cruelty.
During the public hearing, resident Bonnie Barrington said she understood the ordinance and respected where the council members were coming from, but she asked about an exemption the ordinance contains regarding the slaughtering of animals for religious purposes.
Barrington asked if the exemption in the ordinance was for a specific ritual associated with the Jewish faith.
Sauickie said the ordinance “does not create or even support that. It only acknowledges there is a federal mandate that allows it for religious purposes only. Those have to be followed by specific procedures and they have to be done within the privacy of a home or religious institution.”
He said the federal mandate does not allow for animal abuse.
“Should anything be done outside the parameters of what the federal mandate covers, then it would be considered animal abuse, the repercussions of which are in the ordinance,” Sauickie said.
Individuals who violate the municipal ordinance will be subject to a $500 fine, not more than 30 days imprisonment, or both.
Barrington said the treatment of livestock prior to a ritual needs to be addressed and asked officials if they are prepared to deal with complaints that may arise about a specific ritual.
Sauickie said he wanted to be clear that the ordinance seeks to prevent any kind of animal cruelty.
The ordinance under consideration that evening “is not specifically targeting what may or may not be done correctly, according to the federal mandate around religious exclusion. That said, the driver of the ordinance, I think, is very much in line with most of your concerns,” he told Barrington.
Sauickie said one reason why he and Calogero co-authored the ordinance was because nothing was being done regarding animal cruelty at the municipal level.
Calogero said even if council members scrapped the ordinance, the federal mandate regarding rituals would still be in place and everything Barrington was speaking about would still be a concern.
Resident Sheldon Hofstein said the ordinance was needed. He said it is almost impossible for an ordinance to be perfect.
Resident Richard Egan said he was a police officer in New York City and witnessed many instances of animal cruelty. He applauded the ordinance, which was subsequently adopted by the council.
The Jewish ritual Barrington referred to during her comments is called Kaparot. According to chabad.org, “Since late Talmudic times, it has been a widespread Jewish custom to perform kaparot in preparation for Yom Kippur. Kaparot literally means ‘atonements,’ just as Yom Kippur means ‘the Day of Atonement.’
“Kaparot consists of carefully passing a chicken over one’s head three times while reciting the appropriate text. The chicken is then slaughtered in a humane fashion … The chicken itself is discreetly donated to a charitable cause … where it is eaten just as any other chicken. Alternatively, the chicken is sold and its value donated,” according to chabad.org