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Animal Control Can Kill Pets Without Waiting Period, Monmouth Judge Rules

cat_opt-1BY JOE TYRRELL
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

The New Jersey law requiring a seven-day holding period before stray animals can be killed “is not clear,” and a private citizen cannot pursue an animal-cruelty case, a municipal court judge has ruled.

The sweeping decision by Judge George Cieri in Manalapan exculpated four Monmouth County health and animal control officers in the “cat death warrant” case. The officers picked up stray cats and sent them to a local veterinary office where they were killed immediately.

While the local ruling is not binding in other towns, both sides predicted it would be widely applied around the state.

“This is a victory for public officials,” said defense attorney Richard Lomurro, who represented Freehold Township health officer Julie Kramer.

“This means that if your dog gets out, your cat gets out, the dogcatcher in your town can kill them without a second thought,” said Stuart Goldman, a former head of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Cieri said he sympathized with Goldman, who brought the case himself after the Monmouth SPCA declined to intervene. But Goldman instead should have gone to court to get the SPCA or other authorities to act, the judge said.

“There is a conflict between what I feel in my heart and what I know in my head,” he said.

The procedural point might be moot if Cieri’s other major finding is upheld on appeal. But the prosecution said neither law nor the facts of the case support his conclusions.

The judge zeroed in on one paragraph in state animal welfare law, N.J.S.A 4:19-15.6, which says animal control officers can impound any stray animal reported or observed “to be ill, injured, or creating a threat to public health, safety, or welfare, or otherwise interfering with the enjoyment of property.”

An earlier passage notes impounded animals are “thereafter to be adopted or euthanized,” and Cieri argued the combination gives animal control officers wide discretion to decide when to kill them.

“The judge is clearly wrong on that,” said James Nelson Butler, appointed to prosecute the case on behalf of Goldman. But Butler said he would need permission from the county prosecutor to file an appeal, and the ruling could hinder Goldman’s ability to do so on his own.

The decision took one line of the law out of context, while ignoring other provisions including the seven-day holding period, Goldman contended. During the trial, all parties agreed that the seven days are intended to allow owners to retrieve stray pets as well as monitoring others for potential health problems such as rabies.

The veterinarian, Dr. Lawrence Weiner, testified that instead of observing the seven days, he gave the two dozen or so cats cited by Goldman a cursory visual inspection, then killed them while the health officers waited.

While he has other clients expressly sign off before he euthanizes their pets, Weiner said the officers used a special form that does not spell this out but signals they want animals killed. The vet agreed with Cieri that he viewed this as a “death warrant.”

“The judge himself said that during the trial, yet today he said there’s not enough evidence that the officers knew what was happening,” Goldman said.

Before the trial, Chief Buddy Amato of the Monmouth SPCA termed the killings a paperwork issue, saying, "Nobody missed those cats." But he added that the animal control office had begun observing the seven-day period.

Animal rights advocates in the courtroom said they now fear Western Monmouth will immediately use the ruling to increase animal killings, especially of community cats. They cited a complaint from the new manager at the Pinebrook Care Center, a nursing home and adult day care, which could lead to the removal of a colony of cats cared for by years for employees.

*** *** ***

Joe Tyrrell may be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or followed on Twitter at jtyrrell87

 
Comments (18)
18 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
17 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
16 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
15 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
14 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
13 Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:35
Mrs Betty Coker
What Is wrong With This World People Like This In It in The first Place? I Know Of Some People Who Deserve The Treatment That They Put Our Animals Threw. Its People Who Like That Make This World A Hell For Desent Fokes and Our Inonsent Animals Alike And Will Answer To GOD FOR IT.
12 Tuesday, 22 October 2013 06:42
Ronald Zabrisky
You are Hitler.
Stop being Hitler.
Thanks Hitler!
11 Friday, 11 October 2013 21:46
Listener
I have nothing against cats. But I can find a lot better things to spend tax payers money on. If you love the cats so much buy a piece of land and I am sure everyone across the state would love to drop them off there. I'm sure your the same person if the cats bite you or your children you will be the first person to sue. (And someone loses their life over rabibie from the cats.).You also would say the should of done something about the cats. So everyone should put there money together to buy some land or bring them to your house. I am sure you don't want them either.
10 Friday, 11 October 2013 09:28
Caren Carney
Why did this vet agree to do this?
9 Friday, 11 October 2013 08:16
Bonnie Barrington
(Bonnie Barrington)


if there is any question in the wording of this law, then re-write the law. There should be absolutely no margin for error when it comes to these animals. We trust them to help us fight wars, to detect seizures and to help the disabled. But then when it comes time to really do the right thing, we throw them away like garbage. I say, amend the law so there is no question on how this should be handled. What shame, that we even have to have these discussions. What a disgrace!
8 Friday, 11 October 2013 08:14
Bonnie Barrington
(Bonnie Barrington)


if there is any question in the wording of this law, then re-write the law. There should be absolutely no margin for error when it comes to these animals. We trust them to help us fight wars, to detect seizures and to help the disabled. But then when it comes time to really do the right thing, we throw them away like garbage. I say, amend the law so there is no question on how this should be handled. What shame, that we even have to have these discussions. What a disgrace!
7 Friday, 11 October 2013 08:13
Bonnie Barrington
(Bonnie Barrington)


if there is any question in the wording of this law, then re-write the law. There should be absolutely no margin for error when it comes to these animals. We trust them to help us fight wars, to detect seizures and to help the disabled. But then when it comes time to really do the right thing, we throw them away like garbage. I say, amend the law so there is no question on how this should be handled. What shame, that we even have to have these discussions. What a disgrace!
6 Friday, 11 October 2013 06:10
Paul Roberts
Monmouth County is a crooked as they come. Payoffs everywhere, especially Howell Township. As long as they get what they want and to hell with the taxpayers.
5 Thursday, 10 October 2013 23:58
scott4animals
This is truly horrible! Yea we all know that so many politicians are assholes, but what kind of a vet would even go along with this? Shouldn't veterinarians be compassionate and do EVERYTHING & ANYTHING possible to give/save life? Who would trust taking their pets to a vet that goes along with this BS? Outrageous!!! This needs to change immediately!
4 Thursday, 10 October 2013 14:31
Shirley Cotrotsos
This is no good at all!
This is a horrible set back for lost/stray animals. There are laws in place to protect our animals and this judges ruling has taken away that protection. I cannot believe that this ruling came down. It amazes me how corrupt this system is. These four Monmouth Cty ACO's have pushed their power too far and the courts now have backed them. This further supports my theory that not all people that have jobs to help animals really don't care about them. They enjoy the power over the animals as evident by this case. Please take a minute to call the prosecutor and demand he continue with an appeal. This can trickle down to all of NJ and I for one will not tolerate our animals not being protected. Please call Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
71 Monument St, #3, Freehold, NJ
(732) 431-7160
132 Jerseyville Ave, Freehold, NJ
(732) 431-7012
2 Wednesday, 09 October 2013 11:31
Maureen Koplow
The law is clear - 4:19-15.16 d. A shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer pursuant to subsection a. of this section, or from any other individual, group, or organization, shall hold the animal for at least seven days before offering it for adoption, or euthanizing, relocating, or sterilizing the animal, except if:

(1) the animal is surrendered voluntarily by its owner to the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, in which case the provisions of subsection e. of this section shall apply; or

(2) the animal is suspected of being rabid, in which case the provisions of subsection j. of this section shall apply.

e. If a shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound is not required to hold an animal for at least seven days pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection d. of this section, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1) shall offer the animal for adoption for at least seven days before euthanizing it; or

(2) may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such a transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.

f. Except as otherwise provided for under subsection e. of this section, no shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home until the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound has held the animal for at least seven days.
1 Tuesday, 08 October 2013 11:15
Kathi Meyer
How can you allow this to happen? Obviously, you are not an animal lover. Do you have pets? Do you think they can just be thrown away like garbage? Does your family how cruel you are? You don't even punish criminals the way you do animals. They trust us. You should have to look in their eyes before everyone of them is put to sleep. It makes me so sad that someone in your position doesn't consider the people. You are in office because of the people. Their concerns and needs should also be your concerns and needs.

Please reconsider this issue. Please try to have human emotions. Please realize these pets are like family. You are breaking up families. You are cutting into the hearts of children who know their pets are being killed just because they got lost. How cruel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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