Animal Protection Priorities for 2024 in the New Legislative Session


In the prior legislative session, two landmark, long overdue animal protection laws passed the New Jersey Legislature and were signed by Governor Phil Murphy. Both bills—as normally is the case with animal-related legislation—received overwhelming bipartisan support and were supported by an extensive coalition of local, state, and national entities. With these new laws, we join 40 states by establishing a legal process to require alleged animal abusers to pay for the costs of care for their animals lawfully seized from cruelty; our state also joins a dozen states which prohibit cruel confinement of mother pigs and veal calves. Both laws underscore not just the popularity, but also the necessity of the passage of common-sense animal protection legislation.

In the new legislative session which commences January 9th, Associated Humane Societies, as New Jersey’s largest animal sheltering and protection organization, will play a leading role working to advance more needed, common-sense, widely supported proposed animal bills. We welcome the opportunity to work with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, and our legislative allies in both parties towards these reasonable goals.

It is imperative for our legislative leaders to understand that animal-related bills are not “just animal bills.” We respectfully implore our elected officials to grasp the breadth of impact that animal issues have on our state. There is a simple reason why there are so many vociferous advocates for animals. It isn’t just about the animals! With social advances, constituents expect our elected leaders to act accordingly, recognizing the importance these proposed bills would have on countless animals, not to mention how vital they are to so many communities across our great state.

Animal welfare issues are inextricably linked to a variety of concerns affecting many humans. Consider public health: when we establish and support programs that support access to veterinary care and low cost spay/neuter services, we ensure more animals are vaccinated against rabies and are not procreating, which reduces the burden on public and private shelters funded by taxpayers. Consider public safety: when we address root causes and impacts of animal cruelty perpetrated by humans today, we help ensure we are protecting our children and communities tomorrow. Crime data and ample research back up the finding that there is a direct link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans. This includes child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent behavior. Consider consumer protection: when cities and states move to support successful humane business models and stop retail sale of animals from badly regulated, unscrupulous commercial breeding puppy mills—just as 528 localities and California, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Maine, Illinois, and New York have done—we are protecting unsuspecting consumers who make an emotional purchase and unknowingly buy an animal for thousands of dollars, sometimes at predatory financing rates. Consider social justice: when we pass laws that stop insurance companies from discriminating against certain animals or prevent landlords from charging excessive pet fees, we help economically challenged families stay together with their beloved furry friends who they cherish as family members.

Associated Humane Societies, with locations in Essex, Ocean, and Monmouth counties, understands that our elected officials have many priorities and concerns to address in 2024. Many do not directly involve animals. We applaud their interest in making our state a better place for all our residents. But we ask them to acknowledge they have the ability to join us on these important initiatives for animals. They enjoy broad, if not near unanimous, support amongst their constituents. We ask Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Scutari to allow us to help them incorporate animal welfare concerns into the policy areas they care about. Doing so will not only ensure a comprehensive approach to multifaceted issues. It also ensures helpful solutions that benefit both people and animals. Just like us, animals are sentient beings in our society who deserve our attention and protection. In that spirit, we look forward to assisting the hundreds of thousands of voters who support animal protection priorities to have their voices heard. We will also continue to work with towns across the state regarding their state mandated animal care and control functions in 2024. Our safety, health, economic and emotional security depend on action in Trenton.

Brian R. Hackett

Director of Government and Community Relations

Associated Humane Societies




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