Bill Text: NJ A772 | 2016-2017 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Establishes process for recovering cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty violations.*

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 9-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2017-06-29 - Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee [A772 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2016-A772-Amended.html

[First Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 772

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  BOB ANDRZEJCZAK

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

Assemblyman  PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.

District 18 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  R. BRUCE LAND

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

Assemblyman  DANIEL R. BENSON

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblyman  JAMEL C. HOLLEY

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes process for recovering cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty violations.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on December 12, 2016, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning cost of care for 1domestic companion1 animals involved in animal cruelty violations, and supplementing Title 4 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  Whenever 1[an] a domestic companion1 animal owned by a defendant in any action alleging an animal cruelty violation pursuant to chapter 19 or 22 of Title 4 of the Revised Statutes, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or any other State animal cruelty law, is impounded as a result of the pending action, the custodial animal care agency shall, no later than seven days after the animal has been impounded, serve a custodial care notice upon the defendant by certified mail, return receipt requested, or personally as permitted by the Rules of the Court of New Jersey.  The custodial care notice shall include:

     (1)   the name, business address, and telephone number of the shelter, pound, kennel, or animal care facility where the animal is impounded;

     (2)   a description of the impounded animal, including a veterinarian's assessment of the animal's condition and needs;

     (3)   an itemized accounting of the actual costs of caring for the animal for the first seven days of impoundment;

     (4)   an itemized accounting of the projected reasonable costs of caring for the animal for each 30-day period during which the animal may be impounded thereafter;

     (5)   a statement that the defendant shall, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of this section, either:

     (a)   pay the amounts set forth in the custodial care notice; or

     (b)   request a hearing in the court with jurisdiction over the disposition of the alleged animal cruelty violation to contest the reasonableness of the amounts set forth in the custodial care notice;

     (6)   a statement that the reasonable estimated veterinary care and related costs such as medicine and vaccinations, and the cost of food, water, and bedding, as set forth in the notice or, if contested, as determined by the court, shall constitute a lien on the animal and that the animal shall not be returned to the defendant until the charges are paid; and

     (7)   a statement that if the defendant fails to pay the reasonable costs, the ownership of the animal shall transfer by operation of law to the custodial care agency on the 16th business day after the defendant's receipt of the custodial care notice.

     b.    (1) The custodial animal care agency shall quantify the actual costs of caring for the animal for the first seven days of the impoundment, and the projected reasonable costs of caring for the animal for each 30-day period during which the animal may be impounded thereafter, and shall include these amounts in the custodial care notice.  These amounts shall include, but need not be limited to, reasonable and necessary veterinary care and related costs such as medicine and vaccinations, and the cost of food, water, and bedding.

     (2)   Within 15 business days after receiving the initial custodial care notice, the defendant shall:

     (a)   pay the actual costs resulting from the first seven days of the animal's impoundment, as set forth in the notice; and

     (b)   pay the projected reasonable costs associated with the next 30-day period of continued impoundment as set forth in the notice.

     (3)  (a)  Within 10 business days after receipt of the notice, the defendant may request a hearing in the court with jurisdiction over the disposition of the alleged animal cruelty violation to contest the reasonableness of the amounts set forth in the notice. The defendant shall simultaneously provide written notice to the custodial animal care agency that the defendant has requested a hearing to contest the amounts sent forth in the notice which, upon receipt by the custodial animal care agency, shall stay any further legal action regarding the ownership of the animal as provided in this act.

     (b)   At any hearing to contest the charges contained in the custodial care notice, the custodial animal care agency shall establish that the amounts set forth in the notice are correct and reasonable. In determining the reasonableness of these amounts, the court may consider:

     (i)  actual and estimated veterinary care and related costs such as medicine and vaccinations;

     (ii)  actual and estimated costs of food, water, and bedding;

     (iii)  actual and estimated costs charged in comparable cases of animal cruelty;

     (iv)  the particular facts and circumstances; and

     (v)  the defendant's ability to pay.  

     (4)  An impounded animal shall be deemed abandoned, and the custodial animal care agency shall assume ownership of the animal by operation of law, if:

     (a)   the custodial animal care agency has proof of service showing that the custodial care notice was served on the defendant named therein;

     (b)   (i)  the defendant named in the custodial care notice has failed to request a hearing to contest the amounts specified in the notice within the time allotted in subparagraph (a) of paragraph (3) of this subsection; or

     (ii)  a court has determined that the amounts specified in the notice are reasonable; and

     (c)   the defendant has failed to pay any of the costs specified in the custodial care notice, or that have otherwise been established by the court, within the timeframes allotted for payment thereof.

     (5)   Upon assuming ownership of the animal pursuant to this act, the custodial animal care agency may offer the animal for adoption or take any other action regarding the animal as authorized by section 16 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.16).

     c.     Every 20 days after the defendant's receipt of the initial custodial care notice, or if the costs therein are contested, every 20 days after the court has determined the reasonable costs of caring for the animal, the custodial animal care agency shall issue, in the same manner as the initial custodial care notice, a notice of the projected reasonable costs of caring for the animal for the next 30-day period.  Within 10 business days after the defendant receives the subsequent notice with the projected reasonable costs for the next 30-day period of continued impoundment, the defendant shall pay the projected reasonable costs as set forth in the notice.

     d.    No animal shall be sold, euthanized, offered for adoption, or otherwise disposed of by the custodial animal care agency pursuant to this act, if the defendant pays the costs specified in the custodial care notice or as determined by the court within the time allotted, or while a court hearing contesting the amounts specified in the custodial care notice is pending, except that no provision of this act shall prohibit the immediate euthanizing of an animal if, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the animal is experiencing severe pain and is beyond any reasonable hope of recovery.

     e.     The defendant shall be liable for any reasonable costs for the care of the animal up to and including the date on which the animal is released to the defendant, otherwise leaves the care of the animal care facility, or is euthanized.  If the animal is euthanized, the defendant shall be liable for all reasonable costs of providing care for, and the disposal of, the animal.

     f.     Upon final disposition of the animal cruelty violation, if the defendant takes custody of the animal from the custodial animal care agency, any unexpended amount paid to the custodial animal care agency by the defendant shall be returned to the defendant.

     g.    Upon final disposition of the animal cruelty violation, the defendant shall remain liable for all reasonable costs of care for the animal as set forth in the custodial care notice or, if the reasonableness of those costs was contested, the reasonable costs of care for the animal as determined by the court.  Any outstanding charges constitute a lien on the animal, and, notwithstanding a court order authorizing the defendant to resume care and control of the animal, the custodial animal care agency shall not be required to release the animal until such time that the outstanding charges are paid in full. The agency may invoke the procedures in this act to assume ownership of the animal if such charges are not paid within the time allotted.

     h.    For the purposes of this section:

     "Animal care facility" means a shelter, pound, kennel, an animal rescue organization facility as defined in section 1 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.1), or a humane society or other organization that has temporary custody of the animal.

     "Custodial animal care agency" means the shelter, pound, kennel, or animal care facility at which an animal is impounded, pending disposition of an alleged animal cruelty violation and ownership of the animal.

     1"Domestic companion animal" means any animal commonly referred to as a pet that was bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired, in accordance with local ordinances and State and federal law, for the primary purpose of providing companionship to the owner, rather than for business or agricultural purposes.1

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

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