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Posted on: May 10, 2019

Governor Signs League-Supported ‘Vicious Dog’ Standards Bill

On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed S-1923 into law (P.L. 2019, Chapter 82). The League supported this carefully crafted bill, which refines the criteria, to be used by a municipal court, to determine whether a dog is vicious or potentially dangerous.

That bill’s provisions will allow local authorities to effectively ensure public safety and permit the municipal court sufficient discretion in dealing with aggressive canine behaviors that may have been provoked by other actors.

During its course through the Legislature, the League successfully opposed an amendment proposal, which would have required a municipality to present a veterinarian’s recommendation that a dog is declared vicious before a court could so rule.

Given the objective standards spelled out in S-1923, we questioned the utility of, and the added expense that would have been involved in, obtaining certification from a licensed veterinarian. Further, given the ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard that the municipality must meet, we saw no need for the mandate, which would have increased the likelihood that conflicting ‘expert’ testimony which could have been presented to the court.

We appreciate the sponsors’ rejection of that amendment and we thank the Governor for his endorsement of the bill.

Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x121.


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