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By ARep | December 10th, 2012 - 3:33pm
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MUÑOZ-WOLFE-McGUCKIN BILL INCREASING PENALTIES FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY APPROVED IN COMMITTEE

Penalties imposed on those found guilty of mistreating animals would be increased under legislation approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today. The legislation, known as “Patrick’s Law,” is sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz and her colleagues Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin.

“Patrick’s Law” is named for a pit bull in Newark that was found starved, in an emaciated condition, put in a garbage bag and dropped down a garbage chute. The incident occurred in March, 2011. Patrick survived the cruelty and is now recovering at a veterinary care facility in Tinton Falls, NJ.

“The cruel and deliberate mistreatment of any animal cannot be tolerated,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “There will be an increased price to pay for those who dare to treat an animal with callous disregard. Animal cruelty is a senseless and deliberate act that exposes a person’s sick mentality. This bill will heighten awareness and draw attention to the fact that animals need to be treated in a humane manner.”

The bill, A-798, which was substituted in committee by S-1303, increases to crimes of the fourth degree, the offenses of depriving an animal of necessary sustenance, or abusing an animal, and increases the grade of these offenses to crimes of the third degree if the animal dies as a result of these acts. The civil penalty for these offenses would also be increased under the bill to a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 for a first offense, and $3,000 to $5,000 for a second or subsequent offense.

“Patrick’s story has drawn a legitimate concern about the way some people recklessly treat animals, whether they are a pet or not,” said Wolfe, R-Ocean. “Those who lack the decency to treat animals in a civil way will discover that there is a substantial penalty when they commit such a coldhearted act.”

The bill also increases the criminal and civil penalties for: inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal by any direct or indirect means; an owner who fails to provide an animal with proper food, drink and shelter; or leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions.

“A person who intentionally mistreats an animal deserves to pay a steep penalty for such cruelty,” said McGuckin, R-Ocean. “Society demands that people take responsibility for their actions, which includes the way they treat animals.”

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