Senator Revives Bill Targeting Convicted Animal Abusers

Lawmakers are making another push for legislation that would bar convicted animal abusers from owning or working with pets.

The bill (S333), known as Moose’s Law in memory of a dog stolen and left in a hot car to die in 2012, is awaiting a vote in the state Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It had been scheduled last week for a vote that was postponed after prime sponsor state Sen. Troy Singleton heard concerns from animal advocates about the bill’s effect on pet stores and shelters.

“Because of the heinous nature of what happened to Moose, we want to work to have this bill codified into law,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Frankly, it’s for those people who are not just careless, but fairly dangerous when it comes to being around animals.”

Under the bill, people convicted of animal cruelty offenses in any state would be barred from owning a pet or working with animals for no less than two years. Any pets owned by someone convicted of an animal cruelty charge would be transferred to the custody of an animal shelter.

The measure would allow owners or operators of pet stores and shelters to ask state health officials to perform criminal background checks on their employees and volunteers to ensure none of them have been convicted of animal cruelty.

The legislation was first introduced in 2012. That year a Labrador retriever named Moose died after he was lured away from his Delran home by a dog trainer who intended to sell the dog to a Pennsylvania family. The trainer then left the dog inside a hot car.

The measure reached the desk of then-Gov. Chris Christie, who declined to take action on it. It’s been introduced every session since then but has yet to become law.

“Some folks will agree, and some won’t. But we’re going to give it our best effort to get it to the governor’s desk,” Singleton said.

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