New Jersey Gestation Crate Bill …

Megan Hopper-Rebegea

Gestation_crates_5On May 14, 3013, the New Jersey Assembly passed NJ A.3250 / S.1921, a Bill to Ban Cruel Confinement of Breeding Pigs by a vote of 60 to 5 in the Assembly and 29 to 4 in the Senate.  The legislation prohibits the extreme confinement of breeding pigs in crates that do not allow the animals to turn around.  If the legislation had been signed by Governor Chris Christie, it would have made New Jersey the tenth state to outlaw these types of gestation crates.  A.3250 / S.1921 would require that breeding pigs be able to at least stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs.  Continue reading

New Jersey Animals Get More Protection, But Are Still Property

Seth Victor

Last month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed laws creating two new felonies for animal abuse. The first, “Patrick’s Law,” increases neglect of a dog from a disorderly persons offense, a misdemeanor, to a fourth degree felony, or in some cases, a third degree felony. The fines associated with these crimes were also increased. Additionally, overworking an animal is now a misdemeanor offense. The law was inspired by Patrick, a malnourished pit bull who was thrown down a garbage patrickchute in a trash bag by his owner. Patrick survived and was rescued, but owner Kisha Curtis is not expected to face harsh penalties for her actions. Under the new law, even failing to provide a dog like Patrick with adequate food and water could land a similar offender in custody. The bill was passed by the NJ Assembly last spring.

Christie also signed “Dano’s Law,” aka “Dano’s and Vader’s Law.” Under this addition, it is now a fourth degree felony to threaten the life of a law enforcement animal. This measure primarily includes K-9 units, but also horses for mounted police. NJ Sen. Christopher Bateman commented, “Cowardly criminals who threaten the life of a law enforcement animal will now receive the punishment they deserve.”

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Keeping Pets out of the Market

Seth Victor

Though there is a growing dialogue about how to classify domestic animals, the norm in America is, and will likely remain for a great while longer, that animals are property that can be bought and sold, like a chair or the computer on which you are reading this blawg.

puppies in window

Of course animals are not just property, and millions of people believe that their furry friends are essential members of their families, member who should be afforded certain protections against cruelty. Most of you are aware that we do consider some types of domestic animal abuse as felonies (unless you are from the Dakotas). Clearly we care about domestic animals (I emphasize domestic; I’ll refrain from discussing the hypocrisy of our nation’s CAFO situation), but we remain entrenched in a legal framework that considers them to be chattel. No matter how egalitarian the owner, there is inherent inequality and lack of agency in such a system.To draw a common and controversial comparison, no matter how magnanimous the slave owner, it’s still slavery.

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Schultz’s Law: Stepping Forward to the Wrong Beat

Anonymous

           Earlier this week New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that imposes a mandatory five (5) year sentence without parole for killing a police dog. The introduction of this law brings with it a mix of cautious optimisim and trepidation.

Initially, it’s encouraging to see a law with force behind it for the protection of animals. As this blawg has noted, animals in the United States receive very little help from our laws. Under the new law, “those found guilty of killing a police dog or a dog engaged in a search and rescue operation would receive a mandatory minimum five-year prison term, with no eligibility for parole, and a $15,000 fine.” That’s a major change from previous New Jersey criminal law concerning animals; abuse, and abuse that leads to death, is a disorderly persons offense, a misdemeanor that is located in the agricultural subsection of the New Jersey Code. Now purposefully killing a dog is a third degree felony, and one that has a parole disqualifier, which is rare for third degree offenses. Maiming a dog, without killing, is a fourth degree felony.

But before animal rights advocates champion this law, we must step back and look at what is actually happening. This is being called “Schultz’s Law,” so named for a German Shepard police dog, Schultz, who was killed while pursuing a suspect. According to police allegations, when Schultz grabbed the arm of the suspect to apprehend him, the suspect purposefully flung Schultz into oncoming traffic. Schultz died from injuries sustained when a car hit him.  Continue reading

Which Animals Matter (yet again)?

Seth Victor

To paraphrase the oft quoted excerpt from Animal Farm, all cute and fuzzy animals are equal, but domesticated cute and fuzzy animals are more equal than others. This sentiment was yet again demonstrated over the last week. In one corner, we have human pets, who are mercilessly being tortured for the pleasure of a rather repugnant fetish in crush videos. After U.S. v. Stevens struck down a law aimed a regulating depictions of cruelty, Congress quickly passed a narrower bill that was signed into law by President Obama on Friday. As reported by ALDF, “the more narrowly written law that emerged makes it a crime to sell or distribute videos showing animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury. It exempts depictions of veterinary and husbandry practices, the slaughter of animals for food, as well as depictions of hunting, trapping or fishing.” Hopefully the narrower scope will survive the inevitable legal challenges.

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Sex, Animal Abuse, and the Internet

Seth Victor

In Long Island, New York last Tuesday,  the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill, sponsored by legislator Jon Cooper, creating the nation’s first registry for people convicted of animal abuse. The online registry operates in a similar fashion to the online registration required for sex offenders under Megan’s Laws. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty will be required to submit and keep updated their name, address, and photograph to the publicly searchable database for five years following their conviction. Convicted abusers will have to pay $50 annually for the cost of the registry, and those who do not face a $1,000 fine and one year imprisonment.

Mr. Cooper is quoted stating, “We know the correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence…Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.” In acknowledging the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, a relationship of which many people are not aware, Mr. Cooper illustrates how animal protection laws can serve both human and animal interests.

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Fed up with Feeding

Seth Victor

Phillipsburg, NJ signed in a law Tuesday that makes it illegal to feed feral cats without permission. Violators could face up to $2,000 in fines at the discretion of the Municipal Court.

Animal advocates debated this measure earlier, arguing that people should be allowed to help animals in need without fear of repercussions. I agree with the sentiment, but the new law is intended well. Bobbi Santini, founder of the nonprofit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Inc. is on-board and helping to draft contracts between the city and advocates who want to feed the cats. Those who want to support the feral colonies will be required to trap, neuter/spay, and release the cats they feed. It’s a good compromise between the two camps, one that sees the cats as victims, and the other that sees them as pests and disease spreaders. It’s not terrible for the cats, either, as young females have enough trouble finding food for themselves, let alone a litter. Certainly Phillipsburg could have chosen a more violent solution that involved euthanizing the cats; some counties in New Jersey annually gas geese to keep their numbers down, and though I’m sure such action would have met sterner protest, it’s not inconceivable. I’m relieved that the law appears to have all interests in mind, including the animals’. With any luck the TNR program will produce results and the downtrodden cat colonies in the alleys will have less mouths to feed without destructive actions.