Measure Would Prohibit Those Convicted of Animal Cruelty from Future Work with Animals
Legislation Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr., MD sponsored to prohibit individuals convicted of animal cruelty offenses from owning pets and working in close contact with animals gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-308) would prohibit an individual from owning a pet or operating, volunteering with or working at a facility that requires direct interaction with animals if he or she has been convicted of an animal cruelty offense in New Jersey or any other state. Under the bill, any person who violates the bill's prohibitions would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense.
The bill, designated as "Moose's Law," was inspired by a 2012 incident that led to the death of a chocolate Labrador retriever from Delran named Moose. Moose had disappeared for more than a month before a woman, claiming she had found him on the side of the road, returned his dead body to his owners. Police investigations later revealed the woman had actually kidnapped Moose, and then gave the dog to another set of owners. Moose died after the woman left him unattended in a hot vehicle. Under current law, the woman could be found guilty and still legally work with animals in the future.
"Many people consider their pets part of the family. To know that the person responsible for the death of a beloved pet can continue to work with animals just adds insult to injury," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Putting these restrictions in place will help ensure that a person capable of such abuse and neglect is not allowed to work in this capacity and possibly put other animals at risk."
"An individual who has been convicted of animal cruelty has no business working with animals. It's just that simple," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This bill would help ensure that individuals who do not have the best interest of these animals at heart are never entrusted with their care."
The bill addresses animal welfare concerns by: (1) prohibiting convicted animal cruelty offenders from owning a pet or engaging in animal-related employment or volunteer work; (2) requiring an offender to forfeit or transfer any pets he or she may already own and prohibiting him or her from owning a pet for at least two least after the date of conviction; and (3) giving for-profit and non-profit animal-related enterprises the tools and authorizations necessary to investigate their employees' criminal histories so that they may verify that no offender can work at these locations.
The measure, which the Assembly passed 74-2-1, now awaits further Senate consideration.