NJ Considering ‘Bond or Forfeiture’ Law for Animal Cruelty Cases

TRENTON – Those accused of animal cruelty may be required to pay bond to cover costs incurred by a shelter to care for animals taken into custody while a criminal case is pending, under a draft law approved by an Assembly committee on Monday.

It is unclear whether the bill – S4058 / A6099 – will be passed by the Senate and Assembly at their final meetings of the two-year legislative session next Monday. Opponents of the plan are calling on lawmakers to delay the final vote and make revisions to refine the plan in the next session.

Supporters of the bill say the bill has been working for three years and shouldn’t wait any longer.

More than 35 states now have similar laws in place, making New Jersey an outlier, said Brian Hackett, head of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He said nationally, “cost of care” laws are used in large-scale animal cruelty cases, such as dog fighting and mass hoarding, in which shelters providing care during the course of the case could be declared bankrupt.

“It’s not a situation where someone doesn’t have a proper kennel and an animal is grabbed, or my grandmother has a few cats that she isn’t able to properly care for,” Hackett said. .

‘Aunt Tillie’s Little Chihuahua’

Emily Hovermale of the St. Hubert Animal Care Center said such a law is long overdue and would create a process for shelters to recoup the costs of caring for animals that have been abused.

“Depending on the number and species of animals involved, these costs can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, all of which falls on animal welfare agencies like ours with potentially devastating financial consequences,” said Hovermale.

Terri Peifer, an activist with Companion Animal Advocacy NJ, said it was rare for animals to be taken without a person having the opportunity to change. She said animal seizures are not taken lightly by police unless a situation is horrific and the animals are in danger.

“Truth be told, law enforcement usually gets it wrong on the owner’s side and is resistant to seizing people’s animals,” Peifer said. “So Aunt Tillie’s little chihuahua is not going to be grabbed. There is a process.

Seized animals could be killed

But the bill does not say that the proposed law could not be used in smaller situations. Steve Clegg, an advocate for shelter reform, said lawmakers should be careful.

“Every time you allow the government to take your property and charge you upfront or lose your property is a mistake,” Clegg said. “And it doesn’t get any less wrong because we’re talking about helpless animals.”

Mike Fry, a Minnesota-based animal shelter consultant, said the bill – like an ordinance overturned in Louisville, Kentucky – violates the Constitution by requiring people accused of something to pay up front to maintain their property. before any due process.

The bill says that a shelter or pound could provide care to improve the physical or psychological well-being of an animal or transfer the animal to an animal rescue center or foster home. If a veterinarian determines that the animal is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery, the animal may be euthanized.

“These proposed changes will, without a doubt, result in the removal of some pets from families and then their murder before the justice system finally finds those families not guilty,” Fry said.

It is possible that the payments that should be made amount to thousands of dollars, possibly exceeding $ 10,000. If a person were later found not guilty of the animal cruelty charge, they would be reimbursed, but reasonable veterinary care costs would be waived.

Blogger and animal welfare activist Alan Rosenberg said shelters are using animal abuse cases to raise tons of money that goes into administrator salaries – and that he is concerned that what will happen to animals seized under the proposed law once the fundraiser is exhausted.

“If they’re cute, they’re going to adopt these animals for a hefty price tag,” Rosenberg said. “If they’re not cute or need work, they’re going to kill these animals to save money.”

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

What you love most about New Jersey, according to Reddit

Every now and then a user on the New Jersey subreddit asks the question: What makes NJ so great?

Even though our state government doesn’t always make it easy to enjoy life here, it’s always nice to remember what makes NJ so special.

Check out the most expensive house for sale in Somerset County

Source link