New Jersey Gets Tough On Animal Cruelty

11th June 2010
Acts of cruelty resulting in the death of an animal are now considered a third-degree crime.

In addition, repeat offenders of animal cruelty laws, including those whose abuse was not fatal, will now face third-degree penalties of a maximum of five years in prison and ,000 in fines. The new law increases the civil penalties that may be collected by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to between 0 and ,000.

The cosponsors of the bill, Assemblymen Doug Fisher, John Burzichelli, and Robert Smith, said repeat offenders will be subject to additional civil penalties.

Previously, state law did not distinguish between cases of animal cruelty that resulted in death and those that did not. It also did not provide additional penalties for repeat offenders.

In the past, those charged with animal cruelty were charged with fourth-degree crimes, which carry maximum penalties of ,000 in fines or 18 months in prison.

Fisher, Burzichelli, and Smith said that they were motivated to sponsor the bill by several horrific stories of animal abuse in New Jersey in the last two years.

The plight of a mixed-breed dog discovered in Lower Alloways Creek Township with his nose and mouth taped shut received media attention nationwide.

Shortly after he was rescued, "Rusty" was euthanized. The tape had cut off his circulation, resulting in maggot infestation and severe decay. The man accused of the abuse, Robert Lamano of Woodstown, was charged with one indictable count of animal cruelty.

Last year, a Passaic County woman was charged with 35 counts of animal cruelty, after authorities discovered six dead cats in her home. Another 30 cats were living without food or water in the home, and had resorted to cannibalizing the dead animals to survive.