New Jersey's 13th Legislative District

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

New O’Scanlon Bill Would Up Penalties for Animal Abuse

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In light of recent reports of violent animal abuse in Monmouth and Ocean County, Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) announced plans to introduce legislation establishing aggravated animal abuse as a new criminal offense, thereby increasing penalties for the cruel treatment of animals.

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon announces plans to introduce legislation establishing aggravated animal abuse as a new criminal offense. (©iStock)

“Only a cruel coward would have the audacity to abuse or kill an innocent dog. I was appalled to read what happened to the dogs in Ocean County. No living creature should suffer through such catastrophic levels of abuse,” Senator O’Scanlon said. “For many of us our pets are family. Regardless, these are living creatures. We have to do everything we can to stop malicious people from endangering them. It is high time that the punishment for animal cruelty fits the crime. The cases we have seen throughout New Jersey prove that a stronger deterrent is necessary to keep our pets out of harm’s way.”

Multiple Ocean and Monmouth County dogs were maliciously attacked by their owners, according to news reports by Eyewitness News and The Asbury Park Press, including one especially recent case that occurred this summer.

Rivers, a mix-breed pit-bull, was left in a cage to drown in the Highlands Borough bay. Thankfully, during a morning walk, a Highlands resident rescued River from a black wire cage.

In a separate instance, Mocha, a Toms River dog, was killed by his owner, Clifford Robbins. Robbins had murdered the dog by connecting an animal carrier to a hose linked to the exhaust of his car.

More than 70 percent of animal abuse cases involve dogs, according the Humane Society.

65 percent of people who are arrested for animal cruelty have also been arrested for battery against another human.

Senator O’Scanlon’s legislation, which will be formally introduced  on Jan. 31, 2019, would create the crime of aggravated animal abuse, establishing it as a new criminal offense.

Under the legislation, depending on the severity of the case, a person convicted of the new offense of aggravated animal abuse could be convicted of a second degree crime, and face the associated stringent penalties for such offenses.

Additionally, under O’Scanlon’s bill, an individual who is convicted of aggravated animal abuse may also be required to complete mandatory mental health counseling.

“It is widely recognized that the penalties for animal abuse are not nearly severe enough to deter people in New Jersey from committing these atrocious crimes. It’s placing the lives of pets and people risk. 65 percent of animal abusers have also been arrested for battery,” O’Scanlon said. “Anyone who abuses an animal should not be able to walk away with a slap on the wrist.”

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