Suspects in NJ animal abuse may have to cover costs of care

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New Jersey lawmakers may require suspects in cases of animal abuse to pay for the injured animal’s care.

“If there’s an animal, a pet, that is being abused and there’s a cost associated with the abuse, whether it be vet bills or hospitalization fees, whoever abused the animal is held accountable and has to cover that cost,” said sponsor Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, D-Cape May.

He said the measure would  act as a deterrent.

Shelters can’t afford to care for injured animals until cruelty charges are resolved, said Tim Martin with the New Jersey SPCA.

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“The system that we’re employing right now where, post-conviction, you’re assessed a fine that you never pay isn’t working, Martin said. “It’s bankrupting our shelters.”

Barbara Reichman, of the National Animal Interest Alliance, opposes the bill because she questions the ethics of assessing a fee to low-income residents charged with animal abuse.

“You’re putting them in a position between having to choose between hiring an attorney to defend themselves or posting a bond to keep their animals.”

The bill allows the shelter where the abused animal is kept to assume ownership of it if the accused abuser does not cover the required expenses.

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