Moose's Law advanced by Assembly committee

TRENTON — A bill inspired by the death of a Delran family’s dog again is moving through the New Jersey Legislature after Gov. Chris Christie declined to sign it at the end of the last legislative session.

The bill, known as Moose’s Law, after the family’s late Labrador retriever, was advanced by a 4-1 vote Monday afternoon by the Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. It seeks to give judges the discretion to bar people convicted of animal cruelty in any state from obtaining or owning a pet, or from working or volunteering in jobs that require direct interaction with animals, including veterinarian offices, dog training centers, rescue groups, kennels or groomers.

The bill requires the state Department of Health to create an animal cruelty register and make a list of offenders available on its website.

The bill was written by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, in response to a 2012 animal cruelty case involving Moose, a missing dog who was found by a neighbor, who sold the pet to a Pennsylvania family that agreed to pay the neighbor to train it. The dog later died after the trainer left it inside her car on a hot July afternoon.

Although the measure was approved by the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support, Gov. Chris Christie declined to sign it and more than 40 other bills passed at the end of the legislative session in January. The lack of action, known as a pocket veto, caused the bill to expire and required Singleton to reintroduce it and move it through the Legislature.

After the governor’s pocket veto, Singleton said he met with representatives of farming and business groups as well as Christie’s administration to try to clarify language to remove some of the possible unintended consequences.

“I do think we’ve done an honest effort to try to move it to a greater level of consensus,” Singleton said Monday during the hearing.

John Holub, of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, said the bill has been improved since Christie’s pocket veto, but that the association is still concerned the measure would increase costs for animal-related enterprises such as pet stores, zoos and aquariums.

“We’ve come quite far with a lot of the amendments. Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet where we can support it,” Holub said.

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, said he was confident Singleton would work with the association and other stakeholders to make further improvements.

“Where there are concerns, (Singleton) has an exemplary track record of working to address them,” Dancer said.

By: David Levinsky Staff writer

Original article