Legislation to create animal abuse registry advanced by Senate panel

New Jersey legislation to create an online registry of people convicted of animal cruelty moved closer to becoming law Thursday.

The legislation would require the state Department of Health to create and maintain an online registry listing the full name and an available photograph of any person found guilty of animal cruelty in the state. It was among five bills advanced by the Senate Economic Growth Committee during a 15-minute hearing that featured little testimony.

The panel did amend the measure to remove language previously included in the bill to require people found civilly liable of animal cruelty to be listed on the registry along with those found guilty of criminal cruelty offense.

The committed voted 5-0 to make the change and advance the measure to the full Senate for consideration.

Committee chairman Ray Lesniak, D-20th of Elizabeth, said the amendment was an improvement to the bill.

"I'm not a big fan of these (registry) concepts, but its seems to be something I could support," said Lesniak, who has previously penned legislation to increase the penalties for dog fighting and severe cases of animal cruelty, among several other measures related to animal rights.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, penned the legislation earlier this year as a companion to a separate bill he previously sponsored to allow judges to prohibit people convicted of animal abuse crimes from owning pets, or from working or volunteering in jobs requiring direct interaction with animals, including veterinary offices, dog training centers, rescue groups, kennels or groomers.

That measure, known as Moose's Law, was inspired by an animal cruelty case involving a Delran family's dog who went missing but was found by a neighbor who sold the pet to a Pennsylvania family that agreed to pay the neighbor to train him. The dog, Moose, later died after the neighbor left him inside a car on a hot July day.

That legislation, which has been vetoed twice, cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in May, but is awaiting a vote by the full Assembly. It also remains pending before a Senate committee. 

Singleton has said both measures were designed to protect animals from people found guilty of past abuses.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd of West Deptford, sponsored the measure in the Senate.

If the registry bill becomes law, it would make New Jersey just the second state in the nation to create an online registry of animal abusers. Tennessee created the first in January.


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