“Moose’s Law” has been amended but still includes a number of provisions of concern.
The bill, as amended provides:
Except as may be otherwise provided by subsection d. of this section, no person who is convicted of, or found civilly liable for, an animal cruelty offense shall:
(1) commence, operate, apply for employment at, or participate in any capacity in, an animal-related enterprise . . .
While there are certainly some offenses against animals that would warrant such lifetime prohibitions, there are other offenses for which this punishment would be excessive.
Violator A who sells a baby chick
For example, if someone were to sell a baby chick or fowl under two months of age to someone for use as a household or domestic pet, that person or business who sold that animal, innocently or knowingly, is civilly liable under the animal cruelty statute. The penalty is payment of a sum of not less than $250 nor more than $500. If enacted, A-3303 would also bar that individual and/or business from working at an animal-related entity for an undetermined period of time. It is unclear if the amended statute would require closure of a business, such as a pet store, or farm supply store for such an offense. Clearly, such a result seems incongruent with the current penalty of a $250-$500 fine.
Violator B who drives with an unrestrained dog in the car
The provisions of A-3303 would also bar a person from working with animals if found civilly liable for animal cruelty if the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) determines that the person transported an animal “in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner.” While there are no regulations to further define what conduct constitutes such illegal transportation, the NJSPCA has recently stated that summons and/or warnings would be written if a person were observed transporting an animal “unrestrained in the back of pick up truck beds, sitting on a drivers lap, or with more than 30% of their bodies protruding out the windows of a vehicle.” Media Statement, NJSPCA Clarifies Unrestrained Animals in Vehicle Controversy, June 9, 2012. Notwithstanding whether the NJSPCA’s interpretation is valid, or would be upheld if legally challenged, a penalty that would bar an individual from working with animals, as a result of such an offense, seems excessive. Allowing for judicial discretion, in such cases, would provide for a case-by-case analysis to determine if an individual poses a danger to animals that would require such a bar on employment.
Violator C who cruelly beats a pet.
Should Violator A, B, and C be treated equally under the law, if Mooses Law is passed?