That was then; this is now.
In January, Gov. Chris Christie pocket-vetoed a bill that would have created a statewide animal cruelty registry. The measure was among many Christie tackled as one of his last acts as governor. It obviously didn’t matter to him that the bill had been unanimously approved in both the Senate and Assembly.
The registry would be posted on the New Jersey Department of Health’s website and would include the names and photos of convicted animal abusers, who also would be banned from owning or keeping any animals.
If approved again by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey would be only the second state, after Tennessee, to establish such a list. But it has a lot of company. Legislation for such registries is also under consideration in 10 other states this year: Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
This is not a groundbreaking decision. Some if not all of these bills will be approved, and eventually every state will have a registry.
Christie offered no explanation for his veto. Maybe he had a good reason, but we can’t think of one; what reason can be justified when every voting Republican and Democrat in the Legislature said “yes”? Murphy should unleash the registry.
“The animal abuse registry is a tremendous tool for law enforcement, local shelters and animal rescue groups to utilize to ensure the safe placement of animals into good homes,” said Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, who co-sponsored the legislation in his chamber.
Licensing authorities would be required to check the state website to avoid issuing a pet license to an abuser on the list. Pet stores, rescue organizations, and pounds and shelters also would be required to check the list before selling or transferring an animal to anyone on the registry.
“Without it, these organizations have no way of knowing if a potential adopter has abused animals in the past,” Singleton said. “This registry will hold bad actors accountable.”
Millions of people love their pets so much they treat them like children, so how is this registry any different than one for child abusers?
In fact, there appears to be a connection between the two, according to the Humane Society: “Data on domestic violence and child abuse cases reveal that a staggering number of animals are targeted by those who abuse their children or spouses.”
Abuse is abuse.
New Jersey already is doing a lot of things right when it comes to animal care. In the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 2017 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report, which surveys animal protection laws of all the states and territories, we ranked ninth (Illinois was No. 1, Kentucky No. 50).
This measure can only make the state better for animal lovers and pets.