New Jersey Animal Cruelty Laws

AHS Believes in Advocating for All Animals.

New Jersey’s has comprehensive animal cruelty laws that apply to virtually all animals, not just companion animals. There are applicable regulatory rules around agriculture and hunting which are considered when there are animal cruelty investigations involving those categories of animals.

Animal cruelty law enforcement responsibilities were restructured with the passage of S.3558 in 2018. The law enforcement functions of the New Jersey SPCA were removed and placed directly under each of New Jersey’s 21 county prosecutors. The law required each prosecutor to appoint an assistant prosecutor for animal cruelty and a county humane law enforcement officer to liaison with the local police departments, who also were required to appoint at least one municipal humane law enforcement officer. Best practices dictate that law enforcement should be collaborating with animal control officers regarding suspected animal cruelty situations given their expertise and involvement in animal response, handling, care, and sheltering. Animal control officers are not able to exclusively conduct investigations of animal cruelty, however, they should be an integral part of an animal cruelty investigation.

New Jersey also has a comprehensive law protecting dogs left outdoors during adverse environmental conditions. This law requires proper shelter be provided for dogs left outside for longer than 30 minutes without the caretaker being present. Further, there are restrictions as to how and when an animal can be tethered. A dog is not permitted to be tethered at night between the hours of 11pm and 5am. A dog may be permitted to be outside at night if there is proper shelter being provided according to the law.

If you have an animal cruelty related concern, you should call the police department with local jurisdiction for your town and ask the dispatcher for the municipal humane law enforcement officer. If you live in a municipality covered by the New Jersey State Police, you will need to speak with the NJSP barracks covering your area. In cases of an emergency, always call 911.

AHS supported the passage of S.981.

AHS supported the passage of S.981 in 2023, the cost of animal care law that allows a prosecutor or an animal care agency to file a petition with the court to require a defendant in an animal cruelty trial to pay an approved bond for reasonable costs of care for their animals, as approved by the court upon a finding that the animals were deemed necessary to be removed from harm. 41 states have a cost of animal care law in recognition that animal care agencies already under budget constraints must often care for court hold animals for months, even years. These laws recognize that defendants have a responsibility to pay for the costs of care for their animals just as everyone is expected to do.

Interested in joining our advocacy team?

Email: for more information!