Should Animal Cruelty Offenders Be Barred From Owning Pets? [AUDIO]
Remember that heartbreaking story about a Labrador retriever named Moose from Delran who died in a hot car last July after allegedly being kidnapped?
Today, the full Assembly is scheduled to vote on a bill to honor Moose and really crack down on animal cruelty offenders by making it illegal for them to ever own a pet or working in animal-related businesses.
"Letting convicted animal abusers work with animals is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house," says Assemblyman John Burzichelli, one of the measure's co-sponsors. "What happened to Moose was heartbreaking. Somebody who professes to be a dog trainer should know better and shouldn't be entrusted with the welfare of another animal in the future."
Background On Moose's Death
Last summer, Moose, a chocolate Labrador retriever, jumped a fence at his home and was missing for more than a month before a woman who is a self-proclaimed dog trainer returned his dead body to the owners, claiming she had found him dead along the road.
According to police investigations, however, the woman allegedly found Moose alive and kidnapped the Lab, giving him to another set of owners in Pennsylvania and contracting with the new owners to train Moose.
The woman then allegedly left the him in a hot car in July, causing his death.
Under current law, the woman in Moose's case could continue to work as a dog trainer and own her own pets even if she is convicted of animal cruelty, thereby placing other animals and animal owners at risk.
What Does Moose's Law Do?
If enacted, Moose's Law would:
- Prohibit animal cruelty offenders from engaging in pet ownership or animal-related employment
- Criminalize such behavior and requiring the forfeiture or transfer of any pets owned by such an offender
- Give animal-related enterprises the tools and authorizations necessary to investigate their employees' criminal and civil offense histories, in order to ensure and verify that animal cruelty offenders are not being employed at these businesses
"After what they've gone through, Moose's family has been fighting to ensure that other families don't have to endure a similar tragedy," says bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman Troy Singleton. "Putting these restrictions in place will help ensure that his legacy results in greater protections for other animals."
Under the legislation, a court would be able to use its discretion when issuing a judicial order requiring the forfeiture of a domestic companion animal owned by a person who has been convicted of, or found civilly liable for, an animal cruelty offense; or when it comes to prohibiting such an offender from engaging in the future ownership or possession of a domestic companion animal.
"What happened to Moose was tragic, especially given the great lengths his family took to try and find him," explains another sponsor of the measure, Assemblyman Herb Conaway. "But the bigger lesson learned here is that not everyone entrusted with the welfare of animals has their best intentions in mind. This would help limit anyone with mal-intentions from the privilege of working with animals."
Also under the legislation, the list of animal cruelty offenders would be made public so any organization or place that adopts or sells animals would have the ability to check the list if they chose.