New Jersey has signed into law new protections for animals against suffering cruelty and abuse, making law some "Common Sense" standards of care for animals and elevating New Jersey into the top tier among states in protecting animals.

On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation S-981/A-2354 into NJ Law to establish a baseline for animal care that if violated will lead to the forfeiture of animal ownership and creating clear procedures for seizure of animals involved in cruelty violations. Under this new law, a court is authorized to issue a warrant to allow law enforcement to enter private property to remove the animal from an abusive environment and to place the animal into the care of a licensed shelter or kennel. That facility now having custody of the animal must provide care that will improve the animal's physical and psychological well-being with the purpose of transferring the animal into the long-term care of an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home, whichever is determined is best for the animal's best interests.  Also, any animal care agency that receives an animal that was removed from an abusive environment is allowed to apply for "reasonable costs of care" compensation from the state for the delivery of the animal to them.

This new legislation also gives state and local law enforcement officers in the state of New Jersey the authority to act in the protection of an animal if immediate assistance is required to protect an animal from cruelty or abuse. A law enforcement officer can enter private property to rescue an animal so that they can establish reasonable evidence that the animal was suffering cruelty and the officer is required to protect the animal from harm.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy released the following statement after signing this new Animal Protections Legislation into law:

“I am proud to sign legislation that will not only strengthen protections for animals in New Jersey, but ensure that animals who have suffered cruel treatment are cared for swiftly and sufficiently - These safeguards and procedures will enable law enforcement to intercept cases of animal cruelty and make certain that those animals are given a second chance.”

The law establishes specific baseline animal care expectations of owners and violations of these standards of care can result in multiple criminal charges, even if the person charged with the custody of the animal is not physically present at the time of the discovery of the animal cruelty. Among the baseline standards for animal protection includes the establishment that the home or shelter of the animal has to be safe from harmful weather conditions, supplied with clean and fresh water regularly, and not confined from the freedom of movement to rest comfortably.

Before the passage of this new legislation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund rated New Jersey a "Middle Tier" state in Animal Protection because the state's previous Animal Cruelty Protections did not enable law enforcement to rescue animals from animal cruelty situations like hot cars or abusive homes.  Also, under the old New Jersey laws, those entrusted with the care of animals did not have their custody of the animals forfeited because of violations of Animal Cruelty Protections.

For more information about this new law, you can read the outlined details of these new Animal Protections by clicking here.

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