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Wednesday, 2 December 2015




Every second, there is an enormous number of animals suffering pain worse than you or I could ever imagine, throughout the world at the hands of humans.


Because animals do not have language that is understood by humans, they cannot make complaints, or sue anyone (they would be taken far more notice of then).  Even though animals obviously feel fear and pain, just like humans, sentences for animal abuse do not reflect that. They are extremely lenient and not at all a deterrent or just.


Pet owners and non-pet owners alike have their dander up over a new law that went into effect in the Garden State. New Jersey police can stop a vehicle with an improperly restrained pet and issue a ticket ranging from $250-$1,000 and be subjected to a disorderly conduct offense under animal-cruelty laws. Fines for humans not being properly restrained are $46, according to a New Jersey government website.


Unrestrained pets can be a distraction to drivers, just like cell phone use, adjusting the radio, eating, applying cosmetics, and many other non-driving related activities that many of us regularly engage in.  Not only can pets distract drivers, a pet can be injured or lost during the chaos of an accident. Restraining our pet just makes sense...for pets and their people.

New Jersey takes pet restraints very seriously.   The New Jersey statute 4:22-18 as well as the statute which spells out the penalty, 4:22-17 is very specific. 


In the release by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty, a driver can be cited for each animal that is not properly restrained. That means that if you have four dogs running loose in your car and are stopped,  it can quickly become an expensive trip or a trip to jail.


Depending on how this law is interpreted and enforced, drivers in New Jersey should be weary.  Even though police officers may not be expressly targeting drivers to cite them for a cruelty to animals offense resulting from an non-restrained animal, officers certainly may write that expensive ticket when they have you pulled over for something else.  It may end up being in your best (and money saving) interests to bite the bullet and purchase a pet restraint.


The law reads:


4:22-18. Carrying animal in cruel, inhumane manner; disorderly persons offense

4:22-18. A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.


4:22-17. Cruelty; disorderly persons offense; certain acts, crimes; degrees.

[a person who is guilty of cruelty]… Shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3 to the contrary, for every such offense shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $1,000, or be imprisoned for a term of not more than six months, or both, in the discretion of the court. A violator of this subsection shall also be subject to the provisions of subsection c. and, if appropriate, subsection d. of this section.


b.     A person who shall purposely, knowingly, or recklessly:

…Shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

If the animal or creature is cruelly killed or dies as a result of a violation of this subsection, or the person has a prior conviction for a violation of this subsection, the person shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree.

A violator of this subsection shall also be subject to the provisions of subsection c. and, if appropriate, subsection d. of this section.


c.     For a violation of subsection a. or b. of this section, in addition to imposing any other appropriate penalties established for a crime of the third degree, crime of the fourth degree, or disorderly persons offense, as the case may be, pursuant to Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, the court shall impose a term of community service of up to 30 days, and may direct that the term of community service be served in providing assistance to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or to a municipality’s animal control or animal population control program. The court also may require the violator to pay restitution or otherwise reimburse any costs for food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care or treatment, or other costs, incurred by any agency, entity, or organization investigating the violation, including but not limited to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or a local or State governmental entity.


d.     If a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a disorderly persons offense pursuant to subsection a. of this section or a crime of the third degree or crime of the fourth degree pursuant to subsection b. of this section, the court also shall order the juvenile to receive mental health counseling by a licensed psychologist or therapist named by the court for a period of time to be prescribed by the licensed psychologist or therapist.


In a recent article in the Hamilton Post, Dec 2015 issue, journalist Rob Anthes, wrote an article entitled, A Day With The Mayor. This article spanned four pages of the newspaper. The Mayor of Hamilton stated to Rob that they would have a special guest on their 2 hour car ride through the township. The special guest was one of the shelter animals, Ozzie. During their two hour tour of the township, Ozzie was not restrained in the vehicle. This is against the law. It is a pure example of animal cruelty as per the NJ statutes.

It was reported in the article, "THUNK! We had hit a bump, and Ozzy-who just decided to get comfortable, flopped off the backseat onto the floor."  The dog decided to remain on the floor after being thrown from the seat.


One can only question how an elected official, who is a pet owner; and claims to be a lover of pets, would not be aware of the laws that exist in the State of New Jersey.  However, this is the same elected official who nicknamed their town the Big H when simultaneously a heroin epidemic has been running occuring.  The Big H as everyone knows is the street name for heroin. We will give the journalist a pass for his lack of knowledge on this very important law. However, he has been educated on the statute now. The elected official should not be given a pass.  

When we contacted the Hamilton Animal shelter a representative at the shelter said," I saw OZZIE today, he is fine."  Did Ozzie speak and tell the shelter representative that he did not get hurt, that he was not bruised or upset by the event. Ozzie cannot speak, That is why as adults we must protect our furry friends from those who could do them hard. For anyone to think this is appropriate to do to any animal, yet a shelter animal is just criminal. Many municipalities in the county and elsewhere, as well as rescue non profits,  mandate that a restraining device must be present in order to take an animal from the facility. The township could not share their policy on this matter. This is the same animal shelter that has the highest death/kill rate in the county.


Any pet owner that allows their pets to have free rein inside their vehicle can be dangerous to them, the pet, and everyone else on the road. As a responsible owner, it’s best to restrain them in the car. Hence, why the state of NJ has expanded on their animal cruelty laws.


The logic behind the laws are as follows:


Your dog becomes a projectile in a car accident: The sad truth is that your 60-pound best friend basically becomes a 2,100 pound wrecking ball if you have a collision at 35 miles per hour, and their momentum can injure anyone around. What’s worse is that the higher the speed or the heavier your dog, the worse the impact would be for them, for you, or for your passengers.


A loose pet is dangerously distracting: Fido, Kitty or any other critter running loose in your vehicle is as dangerous as texting while driving. And their adorable (but unrestrained) antics could subject you to the law for distracted driving – which can be pretty harsh in some states. A dog in your lap can cause interference with your steering or block your vision. And, if she crawls under the pedals, she could hinder your ability to apply the gas or hit the brakes.


Pets may pose a threat to first responders: In a car wreck, injured or frightened pets may lash out and bite people that approach the car – including paramedics. Their instincts may drive them to protect themselves and you, hindering emergency personnel from helping anyone inside the vehicle – especially if they’re loose and snapping at anyone that comes close. If your dog bites emergency personnel, the protocol is for first responders to tend to their colleagues’ injury before anyone else, which could leave you in the lurch for some time if you’re also injured.


Your dog is a legal (and financial) responsibility: Dogs act unpredictably when they’re frightened or injured, and it’s possible that they could escape the car and bite someone attempting to rescue them. Even in an accident, you could be held responsible under the strict liability statutes imposed by many states that say owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dog, whether or not the owner knew or had reason to know the dog was dangerous.


They can cause secondary injuries: If your dog is unrestrained, they can escape after a car wreck and cause a secondary accident when a car tries to swerve to keep from striking them – making a horrible situation worse. And, the damages from this type of accident may not be covered by your insurance carrier.


Several states, N. J. being one of them, have enacted laws that require pets to be restrained when riding in vehicles. The goal of these laws aren’t to save pet’s lives, but it will have a happy result – the pet owners, the pets, and everyone else on the road will be safer. Lawmakers put them in place because they consider driving with a pet on your lap or with them unrestrained in the car to be similar to texting and driving or driving while intoxicated.


New Jersey – New Jersey police officers can stop drivers anytime they believe that an animal is being improperly transported. The law forbids dogs from hanging out of windows (and also riding in the beds of pickup trucks). Motorists are required to properly restrain their pets, which in the state of New Jersey means that they need to be buckled up with restraints specifically designed for pets, or safely stowed in a pet crate. The fines are steep, too, with a price tag of $250 to $1,000 – and drivers could potentially face charges under animal cruelty laws.


Arizona, Connecticut and Maine – distracted driving statutes can be used to charge drivers who are observed driving with pets in their laps.

Hawaii – Laws strictly forbids individuals from holding a pet in their lap while driving.

Rhode Island – State Representative (D) Peter Palumbo introduced legislation in 2013 that he hopes will make driving with a pet in your lap a distracted driving violation in Rhode Island.


The rest of the family wears a seat belt, and this family member needs one, too! A  good fitting seat belt can restrain your pup and keep him from hitting his head or body on the hard interior of the car, or from flying out of the car if there is a collision or you have to slam on your brakes. Also, it may be fun to watch your dog stick its head out the window–not so fun when his eyes or face are hit by debris or insects. The seat belt will keep them secure and you can crack the window, so they can still see the sights and smell all that amazing “stuff.”


A dog seat belt is made of adjustable straps that fit all varieties of dogs. Owners can purchase different types of seat belt harnesses that wrap around a dog’s body and attach to the seat belt in your car. The safest place for a seat belted dog is in the middle back seat, so be sure to put her there. Animals in the front seat can be crushed by the airbag if it deploys in a collision.


As a responsible pet owner, you want to make sure that you restrain your animal whenever you drive – even for short trips. Unrestrained dogs can cause injuries to you and others, and can even cause secondary car accidents if your dog escapes from the car. Dogs and cats roaming loose in your car or sitting in your lap can cause you to become distracted, which can lead to a ticket or legal issues in some states such as New Jersey. You don’t want to open yourself up to the hassles of any legal liabilities or cause anyone to get hurt when you are driving with your pet, so be sure you buckle up that dog!


Do not be irresponsible and not restrain your furry loved ones. If you are an elected official, you are not above the law, you also need to abide by the laws and statutes of the state.


The FBI Just Made Animal Cruelty A Top-Tier Felony and the Reason Isn’t What You Think.  Now animal abusers could potentially face jail-time in order to set a deterrent against future like offenses.


Previously, animal cruelty was classified as “other,” making it a difficult crime to track, find and statistically count. Now, animal cruelty will be listed in a similar manner to major crimes such as assault, homicide and arson. It will divide the crime into four categories: intentional abuse and torture, simple or gross neglect, organized abuse (like dog fighting and cockfighting) and animal sexual abuse.


How does the FBI define animal cruelty?


“Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”


The National Sherriff's Association was a primary force behind the change, as they are firm believers that animal cruelty is a key behavioral indicator of other crimes. Pawtner-in-advocacy Animal Welface Institute, succinctly stated the benefits: “Collecting this data will enable law enforcement agencies and researchers to understand the factors associated with animal abuse.”


Additionally, this information could provide the FBI a better understanding of the factors that create violent crimes. For example, various studies have shown the link between animal cruelty and serial killers, as well as domestic abusers.  Infamous serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert De Salvo (the Boston Strangler) and David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam) notoriously all tortured and killed animals before moving on to humans.


The violent crime rates in Hamilton township have risen to record numbers in the past two years. Is one of the reasons that this is occurring because there is a complacent attitude to animal cruelty? We can only hope the Mayor is not allowed to continue to demonstrate animal cruelty to the shelter animals in the town or to her own pet that she frequently drives to the municipial building in the township. 


Posted by tammyduffy at 8:35 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 3 December 2015 6:41 AM EST

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