Leave your pet exposed to harsh weather for extended time, or tie it down cruelly, and you risk having it taken away, under a shore-based measure enacted by Governor Christie.

Rescued dog
Rescued dog

The measure sponsored by Senators Jim Holzapfel (R-10) and Robert Singer (R-30) assigns fines to violators, and requires them to pay care costs, if an initial warning is ignored.

"You would hope that pet owners would treat their animals with decency and provide them with a safe and healthy home environment, but sadly, that isn't always the case," Holzapfel said in prepared comments. "We must protect these animals and show that this kind of treatment will not be tolerated."

"Pet ownership can provide a lifetime of love and companionship, but it comes with a lot responsibility," Singer added. "If someone can't follow these simple rules and treat their pets humanely on their own, we need strong rules to enforce them and the ability rescue animals from cruelty."

The law, S-1640, renders it unlawful to expose a pet or service animal to temperatures below 33 degrees Fahrenheit, or above 89 degrees, for more than 30 minutes, unless the animal has continuous access to suitable shelter. Subjecting a dog to cruel restraint is also outlawed.

In the event of weather- or emergency-related evacuation recommendations, pet owners must take every available step to take their animals along, rather than to leave them behind, indoors or outdoors, tethered or loose.

Pet owners culpable of inhumane treatment covered under the measure would be issued warnings and given seven days to rectify the conditions, or risk summonses, fines, and confiscation of the animal by state or county agents of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or local police, with ensuing costs for care, feeding, transportation, medical attention,and, if necessary, euthanization.

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