Pet owners who leave their animals to languish on chains or ropes in their yards, exposed to harsh conditions and without shelter, would risk having them taken away, under a Shore-sponsored measure that won state Senate approval Monday.

Senators Robert Singer (R-30) and Jim Holzapfel (R-10) co-sponsor Bill S-1640, which sets stringent guidelines for pet treatment while owners leave them unattended on their properties.

NJ State Senator Jim Holzapfel, 10th District Web Site

Animal advocates, for the past several years, have garnered support from municipal leaders around New Jersey for anti-tethering legislation. The Singer-Holzapfel measure, to a great degree, addresses their concerns.

The legislation would render it illegal to leave pets exposed to temperatures below 33 degrees or above 89 degrees Fahrenheit, for more than 30 minutes, unless the animals have continuous access to appropriate shelter. It also would outlaw cruel restraint.

State Senator Robert Singer (NJ Legislative web page)

Provisions in the bill would require owners to "make every attempt" to include their pets in evacuations - not in houses or left in yards - when state or local officials order evacuations in response to adverse weather conditions or other emergencies

In addition to penalties for violations, the legislation would permit humane socieites and municipalities to confiscate animals of owners who ignore official warnings related to cruel treatment.

"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 said. "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 Assembly's companion measure, partly sponsored by Holzapfel's colleagues Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (R-10), has undergone several amendments and is still under consideration.

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