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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 11, 2018

New O’Scanlon Bill Would Up Penalties for Animal Abuse

By Lori Draz

Declan Oscanlon r-13 animal abuse bill new jersey

Animal lovers are far too familiar with the seething rage that comes from hearing stories of animal abuse. Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) is one of the outraged, and now he has announced the introduction of legislation establishing aggravated animal abuse as a new criminal offense, thereby increasing penalties for the cruel treatment of animals.

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

Also under O’Scanlon’s bill, an individual who is convicted of aggravated animal abuse may be required to complete mandatory mental health counseling. (Sixty-five percent of animal abusers have also been arrested for battery.)

“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,” O’Scanlon said. “Anyone who abuses an animal should not be able to walk away with a slap on the wrist.”

O’Scanlon is a pet parent himself and shares his home with his wife, Heather, a rescue dog named Finneas, and a cat named Dori.

“Only a cruel coward would have the audacity to abuse or kill an innocent animal,” he said. “No living creature should suffer through catastrophic levels of abuse. 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. We need a stronger deterrent to keep our pets out of harm’s way.”

More than 70 percent of animal abuse cases involve dogs, according to the Humane Society. Multiple dogs in Ocean and Monmouth counties were maliciously attacked by their owners this summer. River, a mixed breed pit bull, was left in a wire cage to drown in Highlands Borough bay. Thankfully, during a morning walk, a Highlands resident rescued River from the cage.

In a separate instance, Mocha, a Toms River dog, was killed when his owner, Clifford Robbins, connected an animal carrier to a hose linked to his car exhaust pipe.

“If we want to be the compassionate human beings that we aspire to be, we must be willing to take action and hold people responsible for these horrific crimes,” O’Scanlon said.

To support this legislation, write or call your legislators. Visit njleg.state.nj.us and write to each legislator. For updates on the legislation’s progression, follow Senator O’Scanlon on twitter @Declanoscanlon or online at Declanoscanlon.com.