Animal safety bill, ‘Patrick’s Law,’ clears panel

TRENTON –The Senate Economic Growth Committee released a bill today dealing with animal safety.

S1303, also known as Patrick’s Law, will increase criminal punishment and civil penalties for abusing an animal or depriving it of food. The bill was released unanimously.

The proposal, originally introduced last year, is named after a Newark pit bull that was starved, placed in a garbage bag, and dropped down a trash chute in an apartment complex.

The dog was rescued by a maintenance person.

“A horribly mistreated dog was left to die while the owner left the state,’’ said Kathleen Schatzmann, N.J. state director of the Humane Society. “It’s almost unimagineable that he would survive.”

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Kean Jr., (R-21), Westfield, would increase deprivation and abuse offenses to fourth-degree, and to third-degree if the animal dies.

The criminal penalty could include a prison term of up to six months and a fine of $500 to $2,000. The civil penalty for a first offense could be $1,000 to $3,000 and for subsequent offenses $3,000 to $5,000.

A companion bill, A798, awaits a committee hearing as well.

Supporters included the N.J. SPCA, N.J. Humane Society, and the League of Municipalities.

Animal safety bill, ‘Patrick’s Law,’ clears panel