No More Second Chances for Animal Abusers in New Jersey
Legislation in New Jersey that would ban animal abusers from ever owning pets or working with animals again is a step closer to becoming a law.
Moose’s Law is named in honor of Moose, a deceased three-year-old chocolate lab who is at the center of a heartbreaking story that began last May when he escaped from his yard. His family, the Workmans, spent more than a month trying to find him to no avail.
In July, his remains were returned by Jacquelin Lockard, who was described by police as a “novice rescuer and trainer.” She had found him, sold him to a couple in Pennsylvania who agreed to let her train him – even though she knew his family was searching for him – and ended up killing him when she left him crated in a parked car on a hot day.
The story gets even sadder considering Lockard returned his body but tried to cover her tracks by lying to the Workmans and telling them that she had found him while she was out jogging. The case was investigated by the local police and SPCA after a veterinarian determined that he had died recently and hadn’t been running loose for a while, according to the phillyBurbs.
The incident prompted concerns about abusers who continue to own and work with pets. Lockard has since pleaded guilty to theft and two charges of animal cruelty, one for what happened to Moose and a second for failing to provide shelter for her own dog, but she has yet to be sentenced.
In this case, she would be able to continue to work as a rescuer and call herself a dog trainer, even with a conviction of animal cruelty, which is a really scary thought.
Moose’s law was sponsored in response to these concerns by Assemblymen Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and John Burzichelli and will help animals in a few different ways. It would ban animal abusers from owning a pet or working in an animal-related field and require abusers to forfeit their own animals if they have been found guilty of animal cruelty in any state.
“Letting convicted animal abusers work with animals is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house,” said Burzichelli. “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.”
The law will also give all public and private animal-related enterprises ranging from zoos and pet stores to veterinary practices and rescues the tools and authorization they need to run background checks in order to ensure they are not employing anyone that has been found guilty of animal cruelty. Additionally, it will create a public list of offenders that anyone who adopts or sells animals would be able to check.
“What happened to Moose was tragic, especially given the great lengths his family took to try and find him,” said 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.”
Moose’s law might not help prevent abuse, but it will help stop repeat offenders by keeping them away from potential victims.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed Moose’s Law this week, but it now has to get through the Senate.
Please sign and share the petition asking New Jersey Senators to help keep animals safe from abuse by passing Moose’s Law.
Photo credit: Thinkstock