Horses will be safe from butcher knives in New Jersey if a shore Assemblyman's measure becomes law.

The bipartisan bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-30) and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-38) bans the sale or slaughter of horses for human consumption.

It won approval by the lower-house Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now awaits a full vote of the Assembly as well as introduction in the state Senate.

Dancer says the bill response to a federal ban that ended last autumn, which had reversed a 2006 Congressional ban on horse slaughtering as funding for government inspeciton of horse butchering plants was withdrawn.

Violators would be issued disorderly-persons charges with penalties up to $100 and up to 30 days behind bars, plus civil fines between $500 and $1,000 for each carcass involved or product sold. Dancer says the penalties are consistent with those that apply to anyone who would kill and sell dogs as food.

"New Jersey does not eat horse meat," Dancer said in a prepared statement. "We appreciate these magnificent animals for their grace and beauty and do not want them slaughtered in our state, nor permit the sale of horse meat in the Garden State, where the state animal is the horse."

Dancer, the son of legendary harness driver and Jersey native Stanley Dancer, cited the recent case of a Pennsylvania rider and trainer who was accused of selling retired racehorses to an abbattoir after promising owners to find new homes for the animals. She struck a deal that placed her in a first-offender program instead of in prison.