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.