Animal Neglect Penalties Signed Into Law

TRENTON – Legislation inspired by the story Patrick the pit bull, intended to crack down on animal abuse and neglect, has been signed into law.

The dog was starved to an extremely emaciated condition, placed in a garbage bag, and dropped down a garbage chute in an apartment complex in Newark. Patrick has since been cared for and recuperated after a maintenance person in the building collecting garbage noticed movement in one of the garbage bags and found the dog still alive inside.

“Patrick’s case was heartbreaking and absolutely needless,” said Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), one of the bill’s sponsors. “It should never have come to this. “Whether it’s the inability to care for an animal or simply a complete lack of compassion, this type of inhumane treatment will not be tolerated.”

“Pet ownership is a privilege and carries with it a basic responsibility for loving care,” said state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union), another sponsor of the bill. “This law now appropriately punishes and holds accountable any cowardly person who abuses an animal.”

Specifically, the law makes it a crime of the fourth degree for needlessly killing an animal or creature by depriving them of “necessary care” such as proper food, drink, shelter, or protection from the weather. Anyone found guilty of violating this provision will be subject to a fine ranging from $1000 – 3000, up to 18 months imprisonment or both.

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