Continuing efforts to close the legal loopholes that allow animal abuse to fester earns commendations from the New Jersey chapter of the Humane Society for State Senators Jim Holzapfel (R-10) and Tom Kean (R-21), the upper house Republican leader.

New Jersey Senator Jim Holzapfel addresses Humane Society (Facebook)

During the Society's fifth annual New Jersey Humane Lobby Day, the lawmakers were conferred the group's designation as Humane Legislators of the Year for 2015.

Holzapfel's Pet Purchase Protection Act, which went on the books in 2015, requires pet vendors to supply detailed information of pets' points of origin and medical history to buyers.

In the current session, Holzapfel sponsors a bill to create a statewide animal abusers' registry, and a measure setting strict guidelines for tethering and sheltering of pets.

New Jersey Senator Tom Kean and Humane Society NJ Senior State Director Kathleen Schatzman (Facebook)

Patrick's Law, sponsored by Kean and enacted in 2013, raised the bar on fines and penalties for animal abuse and assigned criminal status to failure to give necessary care to animals.

Laws he sponsored that were approved in 2015 turned dog fight promotion into a criminal act, and added dog fighting to the state's racketeering statutes.

A bill he now sponsors would turn the emerging form of dog battles known as trunk fighting into a third-degree animal-cruelty crime.

"We've worked to put New Jersey at the head of a nationwide effort to put puppy and kitten mills and their inhumane practices out of business," Holzapfel said in prepared remarks.

"We're focusing on new legislation that would keep convicted animal abusers from repeating their crimes and ensure safe living conditions for all pets in our care."

"I've always believed that how we treat animals, both individually and as a state, is a reflection of our values," Kean added.

"We can be compassionate, generous and humane not just through our personal actions, but also through the laws with statewide impact that we help to advance."