NJ may soon have a law to protect dogs from the cruelty of tethering

New Jersey may soon have a new law banning the cruel tethering and confinement of dogs, and also granting animal control officers expanded authority to seize and care for dogs involved in animal cruelty cases.

The measure, S981, revises current law to prohibit tying a dog in a way that harms its health or exposes it to the accumulation of litter, debris, precipitation or flooding.

It would prohibit tethering on vacant property unless the animal is in sight of the owner, and the bill would also establish procedures for animal seizures, including specifying that notice must be sent to the previous owner as well as the address from which the animal was taken no later than seven days after the seizure.

According to Sen. Pat Diegnan, D-Middlesex, the measure specifies that the person responsible for the abuse would be responsible for the cost of caring for the animal once it is seized.

“This will obviously give kennels the opportunity to be reimbursed for care and save those pets from otherwise being euthanized, it just passes the cost on to the responsible party,” he said.

group of five dogs

Photo: Zoonar/Erik Lam

He noted that the bill would also make it difficult for negligent and abusive owners to repossess once the animal has been taken to a shelter or animal care agency.

Animal cruelty is getting worse

Diegnan said this type of law is important because the problem of animal cruelty has been “amplified, believe it or not, during the pandemic, where people have pets to keep them company, and now they are back at work and abandoning their pets and the stories you hear would break your heart.”

“My niece actually has a dog that had pellets in it. The previous owner was target practice on the dog,” he said.

Diegnan said most people are good with animals, but those who aren’t should be held accountable.

The state Senate passed the measure and it is now heading to the New Jersey Assembly for consideration.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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