TRENTON — The state Senate approved legislation on Thursday sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. to establish and enhance animal cruelty penalties in the wake of an infamous case of Patrick the Pitbull in Newark. The bill now awaits action by Gov. Chris Christie.
S1303 or “Patrick’s Law” criminalizes the failure to provide an animal with necessary care and establishes that crime and inflicting unnecessary cruelty on an animal is a disorderly persons offense, punishable by a maximum 6 months imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. This bill establishes the offenses of cruelly abusing a living animal and causing bodily injury to a living animal by failing to provide necessary care as fourth-degree crimes, unless as a result of these acts the animal dies or suffers serious bodily injury in which case the offenses are third-degree crimes.
“Caring for an animal is a high privilege that starts with basic love and care,” said Kean, a longtime advocate for animal rights. “Exceptionally weak, pathetic and downright evil people abuse animals — and they must be punished accordingly.”
Kean’s legislation was introduced in 2011, in response to the treatment of Patrick, a pit bull who was starved to emaciation, placed in a garbage bag and dropped down a garbage chute in a Newark apartment complex. A 29-year old Newark woman has been charged in the case, and can only be sentenced to a maximum six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if she’s convicted on all counts. The trial date for Kisha Curtis is scheduled for July 9.
“Patrick’s case is as heartbreaking as it is baffling, and unfortunately there have been and will be more cases like it in New Jersey,” Kean noted. “These deplorable offenders must be punished as severely as possible.”
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