New Jersey Just Passed Two New Laws Making Pet Leasing & The Sale Or Possession Of Animal Fighting Paraphernalia Illegal

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed two important animal welfare bills into law. The first prohibits the leasing of dogs and cats, a deplorable practice that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. Murphy also established that the ownership, possession, purchasing, selling, or manufacturing of animal fighting paraphernalia would now be considered a crime of the third degree.

“Animal cruelty will not be tolerated in New Jersey,” Governor Murphy stated in a post on his Facebook page. “By banning the practice of leasing dogs and cats and making the possession and trade of animal fighting paraphernalia a third-degree crime, we are furthering our commitment to animal welfare.

Bill A4552 prohibits pet dealers from entering into contracts in which the transfer of ownership of a cat or dog is contingent on making payments over a period of time subsequent to the transfer of possession of the dog or cat, unless those payments are on an unsecured loan for the purchase of the animal. The legislation also prohibits a pet dealer from entering into lease agreements that provide for or offer the option of transferring ownership of a cat or dog at the end of a lease term. Violators of the law will be subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $30,000 for any subsequent offenses.

“These unfair leasing agreements take advantage of unwary families and places certain specialty breeds at risk,” Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, one of the sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “This practice also facilitates the sale of puppy mill dogs and encourages unhealthy breeding practices.”

The fact that this industry exists is absurd. Dogs and cats are not products to be leased or sold. They are family members that should be adopted into forever homes, and should be treated that way.

Nor, should they ever be used for fighting by people, including those who want to profit from the cruel and senseless suffering of innocent animals.

Helping to protect innocent animals from this barbaric practice, Governor Murphy also approved Bill S3146, which establishes that owning, possessing, buying, selling, transferring, or manufacturing animal fighting paraphernalia for the purpose of participating in or otherwise promoting or facilitating the fighting or baiting of a living animal or creature is a crime of the third degree under the State animal cruelty statutes. This offense is now punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000 a year, or both. The legislation further establishes a civil penalty for the aforementioned offense of no less than $3,000 and no more than $5,000.

“Dog fighting, cock fighting and animal combat of any kind is downright cruel,” said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, who is a sponsor of both bills. “We do not condone or tolerate this behavior in New Jersey. However, it can be difficult for law enforcement to charge suspects without actually having seen them facilitate animal fighting. By criminalizing paraphernalia, we will make it easier for officers to gather evidence and hold violators accountable.”

New Jersey became the 25th state to pass legislation prohibiting the sale and possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, closing a critical loophole anti-animal fighting law.

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