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.

Trump Administration Targets Alaska Wildlife

FWS photo
Last year on April 3, 2017 President Trump signed into law House Joint Resolution 69, H.J. Res. 69, that repealed 2016 Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulations making generally illegal some of the most egregious hunting practices on 76.8 million acres of land on Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. Except in cases of federally qualified subsistence users, the regulations prohibited:

a. Taking black or brown bear cubs or sows with cubs (exception allowed for resident hunters under customary and traditional use activities at a den site October 15-April 30 in specific game management units in accordance with State law);
b. Taking brown bears by luring them with bait for a point blank kill;
c. Taking of bears using cruel leghold or other traps or snares;
d. Taking wolves and coyotes during the denning season (May 1-August 9);
e. Taking bears from an aircraft or on the same day as air travel has occurred. (A similar regulation already applied to wolves or wolverines.)

In repealing the regulations by federal statute, the Congress and Trump Administration made it impossible for FWS to re-issue the regulations under a later administration. Instead, it will take another federal statute to make these activities illegal on Alaska National Refuges to the extent they are not prohibited by state law.

Call on City of Seattle to Send Elephants to a Sanctuary

Photo by Artg
Photo by Artg
Update: The Woodland Park Zoo euthanized Watoto on August 22, 2014, saying she was not able to get up and was in increasing discomfort. Watoto was only 45 years old. Captivity took its toll. Her life span in the wild would likely have been 70 years. Not to mention in the wild she would have been free to have a family, establish the close bonds so critical to an elephant’s well being. She would have been free to roam as elephants do for miles each day. Instead, she was confined to an indoor stall 16-17 hours a day during inclement weather, a given in Seattle for much of the year and to a small paddock on dry days. All 3 of the zoo’s elephants have less than an acre and that includes the indoor facility.

It is more critical than ever to move the remaining two elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to a sanctuary where they can roam for acres and form rewarding relationships with other elephants. Call Mayor Ed Murray at 206-684-4000 or write him or comment on his Facebook page. For more information including how to contact City Council members about moving the elephants to a sanctuary, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below. Don’t wait. Act now.

Original report: According to a recent survey, nearly two thirds of Seattle residents support retiring the elephants, Chai, Bamboo and Watoto, to a sanctuary. Less than 10% support keeping the elephants at the zoo. Two thirds of city residents want the zoo to stop breeding Chai.

27 zoos have closed or plan to close their elephant exhibits. The Journal, Scientific American, recently called for an end to all elephant exhibits. “[I]f the zoos really have the animals’ best interests at heart, they would close their elephant exhibits.” Scientific American (Feb. 2014). “Confined elephants often spend their time standing around in cramped quarters….These tortuous conditions inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals.” Scientific American Board of Editors (March, 2014).

At Woodland Park Zoo, because of the weather, the elephants are confined over half the year for 16-17 hours each day in small indoor stalls. When outside, they are confined to small paddocks. The entire elephant exhibit including the barn with the indoor stalls, occupies only about an acre. The elephants display neurotic behaviors that are signs of distress and boredom. A former zoo veterinarian has confirmed the elephants suffer from chronic, painful skin conditions as a result of the climate and foot infections and arthritis from standing on hard surfaces.

These intelligent, sensitive animals are provided with no exercise, let alone the ability to roam and forage for miles each day as they do in the wild. A zoo environment deprives them of strong family and social bonds of the matriarchal herds in which they live normally. A zoo is nothing more than a cruel prison for these animals. Go here for more information.

Recently, the zoo announced a five year plan that includes transferring Watoto to another zoo and bringing in one or two other elephants for breeding. Chai has already suffered thru 112 artificial inseminations and had numerous miscarriages; there have been no live births. Breeding elephants in captivity is problematic and with the zoo’s lack of infection control and suitable habitat, irresponsible and cruel. The zoo claims it will spend $1.5-3 million over 5 years to improve the exhibit in some undefined way including adding new elephants for breeding; these funds will also be used in some undefined way for elephant conservation. Contrast this with the $42 million spent by San Diego and Los Angeles each only to upgrade their elephant exhibits.

The zoo plans to move Watoto to another zoo by the end of this year.

In 2010 taxpayers brought a lawsuit against the City for subsidizing the zoo’s elephant exhibit which violates federal, state and local animal cruelty laws. The case was dismissed for lack of standing. Since then, residents have called on the City of Seattle to intervene and close the elephant exhibit. Residents attended a city council meeting on July 14, 2014 to urge council members to tell the zoo to send Watoto to a sanctuary rather than another zoo. But the council refused to allow residents to speak.

The City’s Authority to Transfer the Elephants to Sanctuary

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has said that he “personally believes that elephants should not be kept in captivity. The scientific evidence strongly supports that extensive open space and opportunities for rich social interaction are necessary for elephants to flourish. Unfortunately, the Woodland Park Zoo’s current elephant exhibit does not sufficiently provide for these needs“.

But the mayor and the city council have taken the position that they have “no authority over the Zoo’s operations or its policies regarding its elephant exhibit.” The mayor explains, “In 2002, the City of Seattle transferred management and financial responsibility of the Zoo to the Woodland Park Zoological Society.”

It is true that pursuant to Ordinance 120697, the the zoo is managed by the Society under an operations and management contract with the City. But the contract contains these provisions:

15.2 Care of Animals. WPZS shall care for all Zoo Animals in accordance
with all federal, state and local laws and regulations, and in accordance with the Long-Range Plan and policies and guidelines adopted by the AZA.
15.3 Sale and Purchase of Animals. WPZS shall have the authority to acquire or sell or otherwise dispose of Zoo Animals in the course of WPZS’s operation of the Zoo. The acquisition, sale or other disposition of Zoo Animals shall be made in strict accordance with (a) all applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations and policies, (b) the guidelines and policies of the AZA, and (c) existing and any adopted acquisition and disposition policies approved by the City.

In effect, the zoo must comply with city ordinances passed to protect zoo animals. The city has the authority specifically to adopt ordinances regarding the acquisition and disposition of animals by the zoo. The city can, then, pass legislation directing transfer of Watoto, for example, to a sanctuary.

Also, taxpayers provide about a third of the funding for the zoo. In 2012 the zoo received $10.3 million from the city and county. Taxpayers should not pay for an antiquated elephant exhibit that inflicts cruel suffering on Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto every single day.


If you live in Seattle, contact Mayor Ed Murray and the city council at the addresses below and urge them to use the city’s authority under its contract with the Woodland Park Zoological Society to direct that Watoto be sent to a sanctuary now instead of a zoo and also close the elephant exhibit entirely as so many other zoos have done.;;;;;;;;;

Also, please volunteer/donate to support the efforts of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.
Support Community Coalition for Elephant Retirement!
These organizations are leading the fight to save Watoto, Chai and Bamboo from the terrible conditions they suffer at Woodland Park Zoo.

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