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June 20, 2013

New Jersey Legislature Passes Animal-Protection Bills

Gov. Chris Christie urged to sign bills penalizing extreme neglect, improving veterinary care

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

The New Jersey Legislature passed two bills that will strengthen New Jersey's cruelty laws by increasing penalties for extreme animal neglect and will allow certain veterinary students to engage in supervised veterinary activities. The Humane Society of the United States urges Gov. Chris Christie to sign both bills into law.

"Patrick's Law," S.1303/A798, was named in honor of Patrick, a young dog who endured immense neglect and was found almost starved to death. Patrick's suffering has become emblematic of the need for New Jersey to treat extreme animal neglect with the seriousness it deserves. The bill will define serious bodily injury and upgrade the penalty for cases of extreme neglect. It was sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean Jr., R-District 21, and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-District 21, passed the Senate with a 39-0 vote and previously passed in the Assembly with a 76-0 vote.

Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for The Humane Society of the United States said: “Passage of this law will help deter acts that cause the sort of pain and suffering that Patrick endured when he was starved and then left to die in an apartment building’s garbage chute. But when these cases do happen, the perpetrators will face strong penalties thanks to the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr. and other humane heroes in the New Jersey legislature.”

Sen. Kean said: “Passage of ‘Patrick’s Law’ will provide law enforcement with the tools they need to effectively and appropriately penalize those who inflict extreme abuse and neglect upon animals. In turn, it is my hope that stronger laws will force people to think twice before taking out aggression or anger on an animal. There is no reason that any animal should have to suffer as Patrick did.”

S2504/A4139 will allow students in good standing at an accredited veterinary school to perform veterinary duties under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The bill has the potential to increase veterinary services in New Jersey by attracting highly qualified veterinary professionals to practice in the state, which currently does not have a veterinary school. Sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D- District 20 and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin D- District 34, S2504/A4139 passed the Senate with a 40-0 vote and the Assembly with a vote of 74-0

Sen. Lesniak said: “We recognize the benefits that can be gained by fostering relationships between veterinary students and the New Jersey veterinary community. These relationships will help attract quality veterinarians to the state and thereby improve the level of care available to companion animals.”  

Dr. Barbara Hodges, veterinary advisor for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said: “We believe it is important for veterinary students to have more properly supervised direct care experience and recognize the value that S2504 provides for both the students and the animals in their care.”

Media Contact:
Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org               

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