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Diegnan Bill to Expand Animal Cruelty Violations Advances

Trenton – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan, Jr. that would revise current law prohibiting cruel tethering and confinement of dogs and establish procedures for seizure, care and forfeiture of animals involved in cases of animal cruelty.

The bill, S-4058, would revise current law to prohibit tethering a dog on an unoccupied or vacant property unless the dog is accompanied or within view of their owner. It would also prohibit tethering a dog in any way that is harmful to their health or exposes them to accumulated waste, debris, precipitation or flooding.

The bill would also establish procedures for animal seizures, including specifying that notice has to be sent to the former owner as well as the address from which the animal has been taken no later than seven days after seizure.

“When pets are subjected to animal cruelty and are lawfully seized from the abusive environment—whether it be dog fighting, hoarding, or an abusive owner—they are still property of that person until a court rules otherwise,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “The goal of this bill is to better protect vulnerable animals from neglectful and abusive owners, making it difficult to regain ownership once the animal has been taken into custody at a shelter or animal care agency. There is no reason any individual that has lost custody of their pet should have access to re-offend.”

This bill would help address cost of care issues, requiring anyone who has had their animals lawfully seized to pay for the animal’s care, in order to prevent costs from being passed to local and State agencies.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that both Connecticut and New York already have cost of care laws.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.