In New Jersey  another bill (A3645) was introduced that would amend the state animal cruelty laws and the pet protection act.

This bill would have dramatic effects on kennels, pet shops, shelters, and pounds. Those entities, licensed by local municipalities, and inspected by local health departments, would be considered guilty of and liable for acts of animal cruelty if they violate the rules and regulations governing the sanitary conduct and operation of kennels, pet shops, shelters, and pounds established by the State Department of Health (DOH).  N.J.S.A. 4:19 et. seq.

Interestingly, NJSPCA already charges individuals with animal cruelty violations for alleged violations of this section of title 4, which is separate and apart from the sections related to animal cruelty. Assuming, arguendo that NJSPCA’s charging practices are already allowed by law (they are not) then this proposed amendment to the law would not be necessary.

The bad news for kennels, pounds, shelters and pet shops does not stop there.

In addition to the penalties set forth under the health inspection standards, these entities would be liable for penalties under the animal cruelty statutes.

Worse, they would lose their licenses:

No license for a kennel, pet shop, shelter, or pound held by a person convicted of, or found civilly liable for, an animal cruelty violation pursuant to chapter 22 of Title 4 of the Revised Statutes, or a violation of P.L.2002, c.102 (C.4:19- 38 et seq.), section 1 of P.L.1983, c.261 (C.2C:29-3.1), section 1 of P.L.2013, c.205 (C.2C:29-3.2), P.L.2015, c.85 (C.2C:33-31 et seq.), or R.S.39:4-23, shall be renewed by a municipality.

If passed, these individuals would also be added the expanded animal abuse registry, currently maintained by the DOH, as proposed.

The bill also orders anyone found guilty of, or civilly liable for, the animal cruelty statutes to be permanently barred from operating as a breeder of any animal or being an employee or acting on behalf of any organization or business in a position that would bring the person in direct contact with any animal, including but not limited to, an animal rescue organization facility, animal breeder, kennel, pet shop, shelter, or pound.

One positive note: the bill requires breeders of cats or dogs and animal rescue organizations operating in the State to register with the DOH.

Currently, breeders who sell dogs or cats, defined as a “kennel” must be licensed by their local municipality.  Kennel operators must comply with operating standards promulgated by the DOH, and if this law is enacted, violations of those standards constitute animal cruelty violations.

The DOH would be required to develop and adopt:

1) standards and requirements for the proper breeding of cats and dogs, and the proper care of the cats and dogs being bred and their offspring;

2) standards and requirements for the proper care of cats and dogs in animal rescue organization facilities; and

3) regulations governing enforcement of the standards and requirements and the implementation of these registries.

Finally, the bill lowers the percentages under the “Pet Purchase Protection Act” that trigger suspension revocation review for pet shops that sell sick cats or dogs.

The proposed bill would require long-needed regulation of animal rescue organizations, but the majority of the amendments are either already law and unnecessary or unreasonably draconian.