New Jersey’s New Law to Protect Pets

New Jersey’s new care requirements for dogs and other pets and service animals has already proven an effective tool for animal control and law enforcement trying to save animals from exposure to bad weather and inhumane tethering. The new law signed August 7, 2017 amends Title 4, Chapter 19 of New Jersey statutes and provides:


a. No dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal may be exposed to “adverse environmental conditions” for more than 30 minutes unless the animal has continuous access to shelter which means an enclosed, insulated structure with a solid roof, walls and floor with an opening no larger than to allow the animal to enter and exit comfortably, provide shade, and keep the animal at a normal body temperature.

(“Adverse environmental conditions” means (1) when the ambient temperature is 32 degrees F or below, or there are other conditions, such as wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, or hail, such that a person should reasonably know would pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal, based on the animal’s size, age, physical condition, or thickness of the animal’s hair or fur; or (2) when the temperature is 90 degrees F or above, or the animal is exposed to direct sunlight or hot pavement, such that a person should reasonably know would pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal, based on the animal’s size, age, physical condition, or thickness of thickness of the animal’s fur.)

b. In the event of an evacuation order, it is now illegal not to make every effort to take pets to a safe location. They may not be left indoors unattended or tied up outside.

Proper Shelter

c. All dogs and other pets and service animals must have access to proper shelter regardless of the weather. If the animal is not in the house, he or she must have access to a structure that (1) has ventilation, (2) allows the animal to remain dry and maintain a normal body temperature, (3) allows access to clean, nonfrozen water, (4) provides exposure to natural or artificial light according to a regular cycle of day and night, (5) has sufficient space so that the animal can easily turn around in a full circle and lie down on the animal’s side with limbs outstretched, and (6) has at least three inches of empty space above the head of the animal when the animal is in a normal sitting or standing position in the shelter;

The shelter must be maintained in a manner to minimize the accumulation of any waste, other debris, precipitation, or other moisture inside, surrounding, and underneath the shelter, and to provide reasonable protection from flooding. The shelter must remain upright at all times and be soundly constructed to prevent the sagging or collapse and with no sharp points or edges.

Crawl spaces, areas under a vehicle, structures made with pressure treated wood, cardboard, or other materials easily degraded by the elements won’t comply. And no wire or chain link flooring or really any flooring with openings that allow a paw or hoof to fall through.

These shelter requirements do not apply to breeders, kennels, pet shops, shelters or pounds.

Tethering Restrictions

Those laws that have time limits on tethering dogs have in some cases proven difficult if not impossible to enforce. California’s 3 hour limit on tethering is an example. In this New Jersey law, persons are prohibited from tethering dogs from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. outside and must allow the dog to move 15 feet in any one direction. There are exceptions if the person is outside with the dog or can see the dog at all times. The new law also prohibits tethering outside in adverse weather conditions for more than 30 minutes. Any dog tethered more than 30 minutes must have access to clean non frozen water.

There is also a ban on tethering nursing females and puppies less than four months old.

There are restrictions on the types of collar and tethers that can be used, a ban on tethering with other dogs or on vacant lots or in abandoned buildings.

The new law does not apply to breeders and there are other exceptions.

What You Can Do

The new law requires municipalities or cities to educate the public about the new law. Your help is invaluable in protecting dogs and other pets from weather and inhumane tethering. If you see a potential violation, note the date, time and location; write down the details, and take photos or video. Then call animal control, NJ SPCA or the police. Follow up if the situation is not fixed. There is no provision allowing a concerned citizen to rescuer to take an animal held in violation of these laws. But the authorities may do so if they have a reasonable suspicion the animal is at risk of imminent harm. There are otherwise provisions for corrective warnings, fines, seizure pursuant to a warrant and the like.

8th grader creates Premarin mare advocacy website

An Eighth-grader from Alabama contacted Animal Law Coalition to gather information about Premarin mares. Our young advocate had heard about the cruel conditions the mares were kept in while their urine was collected to make menopausal treatment drugs. This animal loving 8th grader asked all the right questions. They then asked how they could help educate people about the plight of these magnificent horses. We mentioned building a website to tell the world about Premarin mares is a great way to advocate for the horses. After a few months we received an e-mail proudly announcing the launching of a new animal advocacy website built by this Alabama 8th grade student! You can visit the site at

Let this be an inspiration to all of us.
(Photo public domain courtesy of theopenmind.)

Judge Rules Against the Elephants

Photo by Andy Withers
Photo by Andy Withers
Update: Judge Rietschel ruled against the elephants in finding that the Woodland Park Zoo is not obligated to comply with the state’s Public Records Act and make information such as veterinary records for the elephants available to the public. The Plaintiff may appeal.

Original report: On behalf of the elephants held at Woodland Park Zoo, please attend a hearing this Friday, July 25, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in Judge Jean Rietschel’s courtroom at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.

At issue is whether Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is entitled to obtain information from the zoo including about the welfare of the elephants. In response to numerous public disclosure requests, the Zoo has stated it does not have specific records or supplied grossly inaccurate information. The Zoo has also claimed it is not subject to Washington State’s Public Records Act. This despite one third of the zoo’s funding comes from the City of Seattle and King County and it operates under a contract with the city of Seattle on city property.

In order to require the zoo to comply with the state’s Public Records Act, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants filed a lawsuit on March 12, 2014: Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo. The motion for summary judgment will be heard this Friday, July 25th at 1:30pm.

We need you there to show the judge WE ARE WATCHING

What: Motion for Summary Judgment, Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo
When: Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 1:30pm
Where: King County Superior Court. 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Honorable Judge Jean Rietschel’s courtroom.

What is the zoo hiding?

The Zoo has taken over $108 million dollars from tax payers since 2002. The Zoo has use of city parkland and city buildings RENT FREE. The Zoo acquired their “product”, the animals from the city, for FREE. Yet the Zoo has refused to answer the most basic details about the welfare of Bamboo, Chai and Watoto, the three elephants confined in the Zoo. When it did respond, some information was not accurate—such as how many times Chai was artificially inseminated or where the water sources are located in the yard.

More recently, the Zoo has refused to provide records on the imminent transfer of Watoto to another Zoo. Despite acknowledging that the Zoo is communicating with other zoos, it says it has no records.

It’s time for secrecy to end. As taxpayers we deserve to know what’s going on inside the walls of Woodland Park Zoo. Please come and show your support against the Zoo’s arrogance.

We will all wear an orange tag that says in big letters: TRANSPARENCY

Seattle City Council Refuses to Hear Appeal for Watoto

Elephants.waiting to see mayorUpdate July 15, 2015: Members of the public that support retiring the Woodland Park Zoo elephants to a sanctuary filled Seattle’s City Council hearing room yesterday.

The supporters of the elephants were there to voice concern, in particular, for Watoto, the elephant the zoo intends to move to another zoo by the end of the year. A zoo official on hand was adamant that Watoto would not be allowed to go to a sanctuary and instead would be sent to another zoo. The city council refused to allow anyone to speak on behalf of the elephants even during the public comment period, claiming that the matter was “not on the agenda”.

Supporters of the elephants then went to the mayor’s office, but he was not available.

Please help by contacting city council members at the addresses below and urge them to support retiring all elephants to a sanctuary and closing the elephant exhibit at the zoo. Please be polite. You can find more information at

Original report: You may have heard about the growing debate involving the three elephants held at the Woodland Park Zoo. For decades, Watoto, Chai, and Bamboo have languished in a cramped, barren, antiquated exhibit that harms their physical and psychological health.

Facing increased criticism over its elephant program, the Zoo recently announced a plan to send Watoto (the Zoo’s sole African elephant) to another zoo and bring in two additional elephants; one of breeding age.

Time is of the essence. The Woodland Park Zoo intends to rid itself of Watoto by the end of the year.

Elephants on Kasenyl Plains by Tobias Seiderer
Elephants on Kasenyl Plains
From the Community Coalition for Elephant Retirement and Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants: we won’t give up on Chai and Bamboo, Watoto needs your support now to ensure that her future is secure at a sanctuary, not another zoo where she will be forced to endure more of the same. The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an elephant sanctuary in California, is available to talk if and when the zoo considers retiring the elephants. To date, the Zoo has not responded.

TWO things you can do to help Watoto:

1) Write to the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray today (email addresses below). Please keep your comments brief and polite, mention whether you are a Seattle and/or King County resident , and include the following suggested points:
• Urge the Council and Mayor to champion community values and retire Watoto to a sanctuary.
• Let the Council and Mayor know that as a concerned Seattle or King County resident, you care about Watoto’s future. The Zoo receives millions in taxpayer money every year, making the welfare of Watoto all of our responsibility, not just the Zoo’s.
• Let the Council and Mayor know that you agree with the super majority of Seattle residents who support retiring Watoto to a sanctuary.
• Twenty-seven zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits; it is time that the Woodland Park Zoo follows this progressive lead. After 45 years of service at the Zoo, Watoto deserves a secure future at a sanctuary, not more of the same at another zoo.


2) Attend an upcoming City Council meeting on July 14th to show your support for Watoto. Children are strongly encouraged to attend. Free T-shirts will be provided at the 4th and Cherry entrance to City Hall starting at 1:30 pm. We will head up to the City Hall chambers on the second floor at 1:45 pm.
What: Seattle City Council meeting
When: Monday, July 14th, 1:30 pm
Where: 600 4th Ave, Second Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104

Please contact Alyne Fortgang of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants if you have questions: Please also confirm with Alyne that you plan to attend the City Council meeting.
For more information on Watoto, Chai, and Bamboo, please visit:
Thank you for your help and support!

Photo by Tobias Seiderer