N.J. moves to increase penalty for cruelty to animals

A New Jersey Senate committee has voted to increase the penalties for animal abuse.

The measure known as Patrick’s Law comes in response to the case of a pit bull in Newark that was starved, put in a trash bag, and thrown down an apartment building garbage chute.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean says even though Patrick is recovering, what happened to the dog was obscene.

“That abuse and neglect had to be penalized,” said Kean, R-Union. “It was wrong to start, needs to be recognized as wrong, and we need to now go forward understanding that because of instances like this we need to have real penalties so we can prevent abuses going forward.”

The bill Kean in sponsoring upgrades severe physical cruelty to an animal from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth-degree crime. Fines would be raised to a max of $5,000.

Tougher penalties will be a deterrent for people who would otherwise abandon their pet, according to Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey director of the Humane Society.

She says tougher penalties will be a deterrent for people who would otherwise abandon their pet.

“If they do not have the ability to keep their animal, there are facilities that will take them in,” Schatzmann says. “Contact your local shelter, local rescue. You could even call you police department.

“They can put you in touch with the health department who can let you know of some of the resources that you have in the community,” she says.

The bill’s namesake, found by a maintenance man after it was thrown down a garbage chute, is now recovering.

“Patrick’s case was one of extreme neglect,” Schatzmann said. “Unfortunately, his is not the only case that we have in the state. So we want some from of justice for the suffering of this poor animal.”

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