Following the lead from New York City, the enforcement of New Jersey’s Animal Cruelty Statute should be placed squarely under the authority of state and local police, with animal control officers, animal cruelty investigators, certified livestock investigators, and SPCA officers providing technical support and expertise, when needed.
As recently reported by the ASPCA, the long-standing voluntary enforcement of the NYC animal cruelty statute by ASPCA officers was relinquished to the NYPD “to do what the ASPCA cannot accomplish alone: incorporate the enforcement of animal cruelty laws into routine, everyday law enforcement work; elevate the importance of preventing crimes against animals; and provide necessary resources to combat those crimes.”
The enforcement of the NJ statute, by state and county SPCA agents who receive only minimal law enforcement training, has been critically reviewed by the State Commission of Investigation and the Animal Welfare Task Force, as previously reported. As recognized in New York, the enforcement of this statute should be a clear responsibility of law enforcement professionals to help insure the protection of animals while also providing for safety of those responding to potentially dangerous conditions. Acknowledging the importance of enforcing this statute is consistent with the apparent interest by state legislators to amend the cruelty statute, and by increasing penalties and expanding conduct considered criminally or civilly actionable.
It is time for violations of the animal cruelty statute to be considered a prime responsibility of the state’s professional law enforcement officers.