SENATE, No. 4058

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 8, 2021

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Stack, Turner, Greenstein, Singleton and Holzapfel

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Revises law prohibiting cruel tethering and confinement of dogs; establishes procedures for seizure, care, and forfeiture of animals involved in animal cruelty violations.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning certain animals involved in animal cruelty violations, supplementing Title 4 of the Revised Statutes, and amending P.L.2017, c.189.

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† Section 3 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.3) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3.††† a. †It is unlawful for any person to cruelly restrain a dog.

†††† b.††† A person cruelly restrains a dog if the person tethers a dog:

†††† (1)†† which is a nursing female, or which is less than four months old;

†††† (2)†† outdoors between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., but this paragraph shall not take effect until 18 months after the date on which [this act] P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) takes effect;

†††† (3)†† [in an] on unoccupied [building] or [upon] vacant property , or in any structure thereon;

†††† (4)†† in a manner that does not permit the dog continuous access to water in a sanitary and liquid state whenever the dog is tethered for more than 30 minutes;

†††† (5)†† in a manner that exposes the dog to adverse environmental conditions for more than 30 minutes;

†††† (6)†† by means of a choke collar, prong collar, head harness, or any other type of collar, harness, or similar device other than a properly fitted body harness or buckle-type collar;

†††† (7)†† by using a chain with metal links that are more than one-quarter of an inch thick, or a tether, collar, or harness to which a weight is attached;

†††† (8)†† with a tether on which more than one dog is restrained;

†††† (9)†† with a tether that is less than 15 feet in length or which does not permit the dog to walk at least 15 feet in any one direction; [or]

†††† (10) with a tether that permits the dog to reach another dog or an object or location that poses a risk of entanglement, strangulation, drowning, or other harm to the health or safety of the dog, including, but not limited to, another dog's tether or a window sill, fence, wall, porch, terrace railing, vehicle, tree, pole, pool, or public road or highway ; or

†††† (11) in a manner that exposes the dog to accumulated waste or other debris, precipitation, or flooding.

†††† As used in this subsection, ďunoccupied or vacant propertyĒ means property that is devoid of human inhabitants or occupants, or on which people do not regularly reside or operate a business.

†††† c.†††† Paragraphs (2), (3), (9), and (10) of subsection b. of this section shall not apply if any person, including the dog's owner or the person with custody or control of the dog:

†††† (1)†† is in the presence of the dog at all times while the dog is tethered, whether indoors or outdoors; and

†††† (2)†† can see the dog at all times while the dog is tethered, unless the person is blind or visually impaired so that the person cannot see the dog due to the blindness or visual impairment, in which case the person shall remain immediately adjacent to the dog at all times while the dog is tethered.

†††† As used in this subsection, "blind" means a person whose vision in the person's better eye with proper correction does not exceed 20/200 or who has a field defect in the person's better eye with proper correction which contracts the peripheral field so that the diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees; and "visually impaired" means having a condition in which a person has a corrected visual acuity not exceeding 20/70, but not less than 20/200, in the person's better eye, or in which the peripheral field of the person's vision has contracted so that the diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 40 degrees but no less than 20 degrees.

†††† d.††† (1) The owner of a dog shall be liable for a violation of subsections a. and b. of this section that occurs on any property belonging to the owner or on which the owner resides at the time of the violation, regardless of whether the owner is present when the violation occurs.

†††† (2)†† The person with custody or control of a dog who is not the owner of the dog shall be liable for a violation of subsections a. and b. of this section that occurs on any property belonging to the person with custody or control of the dog or on which the person with custody or control of the dog resides at the time of the violation, regardless of whether the person is present when the violation occurs.

†††† (3)†† [Paragraph] Paragraphs (3) and (9) of subsection b. of this section shall not apply if the dog is indoors and a person is indoors with the dog.

(cf:† P.L.2017, c.189, s.3)

 

†††† 2.††† Section 5 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.5) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 5.††† a. †Proper shelter for a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal shall be a structure or other type of protection that meets, at a minimum, the following standards and requirements:

†††† (1)†† It provides at all times (a) adequate ventilation to allow the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal to remain dry and maintain a normal body temperature, (b) access to water in a sanitary and liquid state, (c) exposure to natural or artificial light according to a regular cycle of day and night, (d) sufficient space so that the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal can easily turn around in a full circle and lie down on the animal's side with limbs outstretched, and (e) when the animal is in a normal sitting position in the proper shelter, the top of the head of the animal cannot touch the ceiling of the proper shelter;

†††† (2)†† It is maintained in a manner to minimize the accumulation of any waste, other debris, precipitation, or other moisture inside, surrounding, and underneath any area or structure providing proper shelter, and to provide reasonable protection from flooding;

†††† (3)†† It is soundly constructed to prevent the sagging or collapse of any part of the structure or protection, and is maintained in good repair with no exposed sharp points or edges;

†††† (4)†† It remains in an upright position at all times;

†††† (5)†† In the event of adverse environmental conditions as set forth in paragraph (1) of the definition of that term in section 1 of [this act] P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1), it is an enclosed structure that has (a) a solid roof, solid walls with a single opening no larger than necessary to allow the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal to comfortably enter and exit the structure, and a floor that is not the ground, and (b) insulation, dry bedding, and a windbreak at the entrance that are sufficient to keep the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal dry and maintain the animal's normal body temperature; and

†††† (6)†† In the event of adverse environmental conditions as set forth in paragraph (2) of the definition of that term in section 1 of [this act] P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1), it provides the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal with adequate shade or other cooling area by natural or artificial means to allow the animal to maintain a normal body temperature , including, but not limited to, an open-air canopy, gazebo, tree, shallow pool, or mud wallow, either alone or in combination .

†††† b.††† Any part of the residence of an owner, or other person with custody or control, of a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal shall be proper shelter for a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal, provided that the part of the residence, and the use thereof, are in compliance with the requirements for proper shelter set forth in this section.

†††† c.†††† Proper shelter for a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal shall not include:

†††† (1)†† a crawl space under a building or a part of a building, such as under steps, a deck, or a stoop;

†††† (2)†† the space under a vehicle;

†††† (3)†† the inside of a vehicle if the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal is kept in the vehicle in a manner or for a length of time that a person should reasonably know poses an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal; [or]

†††† (4)†† any structure or protection (a) made from pressure-treated wood which contains the chemicals arsenic or chromium, (b) with a floor consisting of wire or chain-link or having openings through which the paw, hoof, or foot of a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal, as applicable, can pass, or (c) that is located outdoors and is made from cardboard or other materials that are easily degraded by the elements; or

†††† (5)†† unoccupied or vacant property, or any structure thereon, in which the animal is regularly kept unattended, as "unattended" is defined in section 1 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1).

†††† As used in this subsection, ďunoccupied or vacant propertyĒ means property that is devoid of human inhabitants or occupants, or on which people do not regularly reside or operate a business.

(cf:† P.L.2017, c.189, s.5)

 

†††† 3.††† Section 7 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.7) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 7.††† a. †Upon a showing of probable cause that there has been a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) and submission of proof of issuance of a [summons] written correction warning pursuant to subsection f. of this section, a court of competent jurisdiction may issue, upon request, a warrant to any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer to enter onto the private property where a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal is located and take [physical] custody of the animal, except that if immediate assistance is required to protect or preserve the animal's life or prevent injury to the animal, no proof of issuance of a written correction warning shall be required for the warrant to be issued.

†††† b.††† Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, or any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer may immediately enter onto private property where a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal is located and take [physical] custody of the animal [,] if the officer has a reasonable basis to believe that, due to a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.), immediate assistance is required to protect or preserve the animal's life or prevent injury to the animal.

†††† c.†††† Upon taking [physical] custody of a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal pursuant to subsection a. or b. of this section, the person taking [physical] custody of the animal shall:†

†††† (1) post immediately, in a conspicuous place at the location from which the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal was taken into custody , the notice required pursuant to subsection d. of this section to the owner or person with custody or control of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal; and

†††† (2) no later than seven days after the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal has been taken into custody, send by registered or certified mail [and by ordinary mail], or by personal service, the notice described in subsection d. of this section to :

†††† (a) the address of the location from which the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal was taken into [physical] custody ; and

†††† (b) the owner of record, if the address for the owner of record is different from the location from which the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal was taken.

†††† d.††† The notice required pursuant to subsection c. of this section shall:† (1) provide a description of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal; (2) state that the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal may be euthanized upon a veterinarian's written determination of medical necessity as required by subsection e. of this section; (3) state the statutory authority and reason for taking custody of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal; and (4) provide contact information, including at least the name of any applicable office or entity, the name of a person at that office or entity, and a telephone number for the owner or person with custody or control of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal to obtain information concerning the animal [, the alleged violation, and] including where the animal is [impounded] in custody .

†††† e.†††† A dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal taken into [physical] custody pursuant to subsection a. or b. of this section shall be placed in the care of a licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound to ensure the humane care and treatment of the animal.† If, after the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal has been taken into [physical] custody, a licensed veterinarian makes a written determination that the animal is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery with reasonable veterinary medical treatment, the animal may be euthanized.† At any time while the licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound has custody or control of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal, it may place the animal in an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home , or otherwise provide care to improve the animal's physical or psychological well-being, if it determines the placement or care is in the best interest of the animal , except that euthanasia shall be permitted only under the limited circumstances specified in this subsection .

†††† f.†††† A person shall be issued a written correction warning prior to being cited for a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) unless the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal involved in the violation was seized under an emergency warrant issued pursuant to subsection a. of this section or seized immediately pursuant to subsection b. of this section.† A summons [shall] may be served on the alleged violator [as soon as practicable] if:

†††† (1)†† after the seven days have elapsed from the date a written correction warning is issued, no correction has been made; [or]

†††† (2)†† the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal involved in the violation was seized immediately pursuant to subsection b. of this section; or

†††† (3)†† the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal involved in the violation was seized under an emergency warrant issued pursuant to subsection a. of this section.

†††† If the alleged violator is not the owner of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal, the person issuing the written correction warning or summons, as applicable, shall also notify the owner of the animal of the violation and provide the owner with a copy of the issued written correction warning or summons, as applicable.

†††† g.††† Any summons issued for a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) shall contain:

†††† (1)†† a description of the violation and statutory authority; and

†††† (2)†† contact information identifying, at a minimum (a) the name of the investigating agency or office, and (b) the name of the officer issuing the summons or investigating the alleged violation.

†††† h.††† Any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer issuing a summons for a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) shall also serve on the alleged violator, with the summons, a written notice of:

†††† (1)†† the right to voluntarily forfeit ownership or custody of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal;

†††† (2)†† the action or actions required for compliance;

†††† (3)†† a demand for immediate compliance; and

†††† (4)†† a telephone number for the investigating agency or office and the investigating officer or agent.

†††† i.†††† Any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to have a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal confiscated, if not previously seized, and forfeited upon the person being found guilty of, or liable for, a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.).† Upon a finding that continued possession of the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal by the owner or other person authorized to have custody or control of the animal poses a threat to the health or safety of the animal, the court shall order that the animal be forfeited, placed in an animal rescue organization facility, shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, and made available for adoption.†

†††† j.†††† A person found guilty of, or liable for, a violation of any provision of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.1 et seq.) shall be responsible for, and pay, the reasonable costs of caring for the dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal from the date on which [physical] custody of the animal was taken pursuant to this section until the date the animal is surrendered, forfeited, returned, or euthanized, including, but not limited to, the cost of transporting, sheltering, and feeding the animal, the cost of providing the animal with necessary veterinary care, and if the animal is euthanized, the cost of the euthanasia.

(cf:† P.L.2019, c.83, s.1)

 

†††† 4.††† (New section)† As used in sections 4 through 7 of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

†††† "Animal care agency" means a shelter, pound, kennel, or animal rescue organization, as those terms are defined in section 1 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.1), or a humane society or other organization that has temporary custody of an animal.

†††† "Animal cruelty violation" means a civil or criminal violation of chapter 19 or 22 of Title 4 of the Revised Statutes, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or any other State law concerning animal cruelty.

†††† "Enforcement agency" means any agency, department, organization, or count society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any agent, humane law enforcement officer, or representative thereof, involved in law enforcement or animal control, or the monitoring of animal welfare and animal cruelty violations.

†††† "Reasonable costs of care" means (1) the costs of shelter, food, water, and bedding necessary to house an animal, (2) the costs of necessary care to improve an animal's psychological well-being, including, but not limited to, training and enrichments designed to provide mental and physical stimulation, and (3) the costs of necessary veterinary care for an animal, including, but not limited to, surgical intervention, medicine, vaccinations, and euthanasia and disposal costs, as determined necessary by a licensed veterinarian.

 

†††† 5.††† (New section) a.† Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, upon a showing of probable cause that there has been an animal cruelty violation, a court of competent jurisdiction may issue, upon request, a warrant to any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer to enter onto the private property where an animal is located and take custody of the animal.

†††† b.††† Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, or any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, a municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer may immediately enter onto private property where an animal is located and take custody of an animal if the officer has a reasonable basis to believe that, due to an animal cruelty violation, immediate assistance is required to protect or preserve the animal's life or prevent injury to the animal.†

†††† c.†††† An animal taken into custody pursuant to subsection a. or b. of this section shall be placed in the care of a licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound to ensure the humane care and treatment of the animal.† If, after the animal has been taken into custody, a licensed veterinarian makes a written determination that the animal is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery with reasonable veterinary medical treatment, the animal may be euthanized.† At any time while the licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound has custody or control of the animal, it may place the animal in an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home, or otherwise provide care to improve the animal's physical or psychological well-being, if it determines that such placement or care is in the best interests of the animal, except that euthanasia will be permitted only under the limited circumstances specified in this subsection.

 

†††† 6.††† (New section) a.† An animal care agency that takes custody of an animal pursuant to section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or an authorized agent of the animal care agency, including an attorney prosecuting an animal cruelty violation on behalf of a municipality or county, may, no later than 20 days after the animal is taken into custody, file an action in the Superior Court seeking the reasonable costs of care for the animal from the animalís owner, or, if the owner is not known to the plaintiff, the person from whom the animal was taken.† A copy of the complaint shall be served upon the animalís owner, or, if the owner is not known to the plaintiff, to the person from whom the animal was taken in accordance with the rules of the court.† The complaint shall include:

†††† (1) the name, business address, and telephone number of the animal care agency that has custody of the animal;

†††† (2) a description of the animal taken into custody, including a licensed veterinarianís assessment of the animalís condition and needs;

†††† (3) a statement of the actual and estimated reasonable costs of care for the animal;

†††† (4) a statement that, at any time after the animal has been taken into custody, the animalís owner may relinquish ownership of the animal to the enforcement agency that seized the animal or to the animal care agency with custody of the animal;

†††† (5) a statement that, if the animalís owner or the person from whom the animal was taken fails to pay any portion of the reasonable costs of care for the animal, as established by the court, when due, ownership of the animal shall immediately transfer to the animal care agency with custody of the animal; and

†††† (6) a plain language summary of the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), to be prepared by the Attorney Generalís Office and distributed to animal care agencies in the State.

†††† b.††† Upon receipt of a complaint filed pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the court shall schedule a hearing on the complaint to be conducted no later than 30 days after the date on which the complaint is filed with the court.† Failure by the court to hold a timely hearing pursuant to this subsection shall not affect the disposition of the animal under the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or the disposition of any pending animal cruelty case against the person from whom an animal was seized.

†††† c.†††† At the hearing on a complaint filed pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the plaintiff shall establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the animal was taken into custody either for the animalís protection from harm or for needed medical attention. †The court may consider testimony from the agent or officer who seized the animal and other witnesses as to the condition of the animal when seized and as to the conditions under which the animal or other animals in the household were kept, testimony and evidence as to the veterinary care provided to the animal, expert testimony as to the community standards for proper and reasonable care of the same type of animal, testimony from any witnesses as to the prior treatment or condition of this or other animals in the custody of the owner or person from whom the animal was taken, or any other evidence the court considers to be material or relevant. †The plaintiff shall also demonstrate that the animalís owner, or, if the animalís owner is not known, the person from whom the animal was taken, was served with a copy of the complaint as required pursuant to subsection a. of this section.

†††† (1) If the court determines that the plaintiff has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the animal was taken into custody either for the animalís protection or for needed medical attention and that the service and content of the complaint met the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the court shall award damages for the reasonable costs of care for the animal for the period the animal is in the custody and care of the animal care agency against the animalís owner or the person from whom the animal was taken, as appropriate. †The costs shall be calculated from the date the animal was taken into custody by the enforcement agency or animal care agency, whichever is earlier.

†††† (2)†† If the court determines that the plaintiff has not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that an animal was taken into custody either for the animalís protection or for needed medical attention, the court shall not award damages for the reasonable costs of care, but the animal shall remain in the custody of the animal care agency during the pendency of the criminal investigation and proceeding related to the alleged criminal offense that led to the seizure of the animal.

†††† (3) If the court determines that the service or content of the complaint did not meet the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the animal shall remain in the custody of the animal care agency during the pendency of the criminal investigation and proceeding related to the alleged criminal offense that led to the seizure of the animal. †The plaintiff may petition the court for a thirty-day extension to refile the complaint.

†††† d.††† If a person found liable for the reasonable costs of care of an animal pursuant to this section demonstrates, and the court finds, that the person is unable to pay the full amounts required pursuant to subsection c. of this section, the court shall require, at minimum, payment of that portion of the required amounts attributable to the necessary veterinary care for the animal, including, but not limited to, the costs of surgical intervention, medicine, vaccinations, and euthanasia and disposal costs, as determined necessary by a licensed veterinarian.

†††† e.†††† Unless otherwise ordered by the court, no later than seven days after the issuance of a court order pursuant to subsection c. of this section, the person found liable for the reasonable costs of care shall pay the animal care agency the full amount, as required by the court, for the respective 30-day period.† The person shall make a new payment in the same amount every 30 days until:

†††† (1) the owner voluntarily transfers ownership of the animal to the animal care agency;

†††† (2) ownership of the animal is transferred to the animal care agency pursuant to subsection f. of this section;

†††† (3) the animal is euthanized pursuant to subsection g. of this section; or

†††† (4) final disposition of the proceeding related to the alleged criminal offense that led to the seizure of the animal, including forfeiture of the animal pursuant to section 7 of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or any other law.

†††† Upon a change in the animalís ownership status pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (4) of this subsection, any unexpended amounts paid by the person to the animal care agency shall be returned to the person.

†††† f.†††† If the person against whom a judgment pursuant to subsection e. of this section was entered fails to make a payment for the reasonable costs of care for an animal within seven days of the date of issuance of the court order and every 30 days thereafter as required pursuant to subsection e. of this section, ownership of the animal shall immediately transfer, by operation of law, to the animal care agency with custody of the animal, and the animal care agency shall obtain all rights and privilege in and over the animal.†

†††† g.††† An animal care agency shall not sell, euthanize, offer for adoption, or otherwise dispose of an animal if the person liable for the reasonable costs of care for the animal makes timely payments of such costs to the animal care agency as required by the court; provided, however, that an animal care agency may euthanize an animal at any time if a licensed veterinarian makes a written determination that the animal is experiencing intractable and extreme pain and is beyond any reasonable hope of recovery.

†††† h.††† If a person liable for the reasonable costs of care pursuant to this section is found not guilty of the alleged criminal animal cruelty offense that led to the seizure of the animal, and if the person has made timely payments of the reasonable costs of care pursuant to this section, the person shall have the right to immediately repossess the personís animal and to be reimbursed by the animal care agency for all of the reasonable costs of care, except those related to necessary veterinary care, that were paid by the person to the animal care agency.

†††† i.†††† The result of any hearing held pursuant to this section, and any statement made by a party in the course of such a hearing, shall not be admissible in any criminal prosecution for an animal cruelty violation.

†††† j.†††† If the owner or the person from whom an animal was taken, as applicable, fails to appear for a hearing for the reasonable costs of care for an animal pursuant to this section, the owner or other person shall be liable for the costs, and all other provisions of this section shall remain in force.

†††† k.††† As used in this section, ďanimalĒ means any vertebrate other than humans, except that, other than animals used in connection with a violation of R.S.4:22-24 and equine animals, ďanimalĒ shall not include ďdomestic livestockĒ as defined by section 1 of P.L.1995, c.311 (C.4:22-16.1).

 

†††† 7.††† (New section) a. †Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, an animal care agency or enforcement agency may, upon the conviction of a person for an animal cruelty violation, petition the court in the animal cruelty proceeding for an order requiring forfeiture of the animal that is the basis of the conviction.

†††† b.††† At the sentencing of a person convicted of an animal cruelty violation, the court, upon its own initiative or in response to a petition filed pursuant to subsection a. of this section, and in addition to any other penalties that may be imposed on the defendant, may:

†††† (1) adjudge an animal that is the basis of the conviction for an animal cruelty violation forfeited to the animal care agency with custody of the animal, and invest all rights and privileges over the animal in the animal care agency; and

†††† (2) order that the person convicted of an animal cruelty violation and any person who was convicted for conspiring, aiding, or abetting in the violation that was the basis of the conviction, shall not own, harbor, or have custody or control of any other animals for a period of time that the court deems appropriate.

†††† c.†††† Any animal found to be in intractable and extreme pain and that is beyond any reasonable hope of recovery, as certified to the court in writing by a licensed veterinarian, may be euthanized immediately and prior to the issuance of a court order.

 

†††† 8.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill would: †(1) make various changes to P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.3 et seq.), which prohibits certain practices of tethering and confining dogs; (2) authorize certain law enforcement officials to take custody of animals in cases of suspected animal cruelty violations; and (3) establish various provisions related to the cost of care of animals taken into custody.

†††† Specifically, concerning P.L.2017, c.189, the bill would:

†††† (1) provide that it is unlawful to tether a dog on unoccupied or vacant property, or in any structure on such property, unless the dog is (a) accompanied by a person who can see the dog, or (b) is indoors along with a person;

†††† (2) make it unlawful to tether a dog in a manner that exposes the dog to accumulated waste or other debris, precipitation, or flooding;

†††† (3) clarify that proper shelter for a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal does not include unoccupied or vacant property, or any structure thereon, in which the animal is regularly kept unattended;

†††† (4) provide that a court of competent jurisdiction may issue a warrant concerning a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 after receiving proof of issuance of a written correction warning pursuant to subsection f. of section 7 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.7), rather than proof of issuance of a summons;

†††† (5) provide that a court of competent jurisdiction may issue a warrant concerning a violation of P.L.2017, c.189 without receiving the proof of issuance described above, if immediate assistance is required to protect an animal;

†††† (6) specify that the notice required pursuant to subsection c. of section 7 of P.L.2017, c.189 (C.4:22-17.7):† (a) must be sent no later than seven days after an animal has been taken into custody; (b) must be sent to the owner as well as the address from which the animal was taken; and (c) need not contain information concerning the alleged violation that led to the seizure; and

†††† (7) provide that a licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound that has custody or control of a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal, because of an alleged violation of P.L.2017, c.189 may provide care to improve the animal's physical or psychological well-being.

†††† In addition, the bill would authorize a court of competent jurisdiction to issue a warrant to any municipal humane law enforcement officer, humane law enforcement officer of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other State or local law enforcement officer to enter onto the private property where an animal is located and take custody of the animal, upon a showing of probable cause that there has been an animal cruelty violation.† In cases where an officer has a reasonable basis to believe that, due to an animal cruelty violation, immediate assistance is required, the officer would be authorized to enter a private property and take custody of an animal without a warrant.

†††† The bill would require animals taken into custody in the manner described above to be placed in the care of a licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.† The bill would authorize these facilities to provide care to improve the animal's physical or psychological well-being, or to transfer the animal in an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home, if it determines that such placement or care is in the best interests of the animal.† Euthanasia would only be permitted, under the bill, when a licensed veterinarian makes a written determination that the animal is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery with reasonable veterinary medical treatment.

†††† The bill would authorize an animal care agency (as defined by the bill) that receives and cares for an animal taken into custody in the manner described above to file a complaint in the Superior Court seeking the the reasonable costs of care for the animal.† The bill would establish various requirements for the form and content of the complaint, as enumerated in subsection a. of section 6 of the bill.† If an animal care agency demonstrates by a preponderance of evidence that an animal was taken into custody either for the animalís protection from harm or for needed medical attention and that the complaint was served in the correct manner, the bill would direct the court to award damages for the reasonable costs of care for the animal for the period that the animal is in the custody of the animal care agency.† If the court determines that the animal care agency has not shown by a preponderance of evidence that the animal was taken into custody either for the animalís protection or for needed medical attention, no damages would be awarded but the animal would be retained by the animal care agency until the outcome of the animal cruelty proceeding that led to the animal's seizure.† If the court determines that complaint was not filed in the correct manner, the animal would be retained by the animal care agency, which could petition the court for a 30-day extension to refile the complaint.

†††† The bill establishes various requirements concerning the way in which damages for the reasonable costs of care for an animal are to be paid, as enumerated in subsections c. through e. of section 6 of the bill.† If a person fails to make a payment as required by the bill, ownership of the animal would transfer to the animal care agency.

†††† The bill would provide that, if a person liable for the reasonable costs of care under the bill were found not guilty of the alleged criminal animal cruelty offense that led to the seizure of the animal, and if the person had made timely payments of the reasonable costs of care, the person would be authorized to immediately repossess the personís animal and to be reimbursed by the animal care agency for all of the reasonable costs of care, except those related to necessary veterinary care, that were paid by the person to the animal care agency.

†††† Finally, the bill would authorize animal care agencies and enforcement agencies (as defined by the bill) to petition a court presiding over an animal cruelty proceeding for an order requiring the forfeiture of the animal involved in animal cruelty offense to an animal care agency.† The court would also be authorized to order that the person convicted of an animal cruelty violation and any person who was convicted for conspiring, aiding, or abetting in the violation that was the basis of the conviction, be prohibited from owning, harboring, or having custody or control of any other animals for a period of time that the court deems appropriate.† The bill would also authorize the court to issue an order as described above upon its own initiative.