TRENTON, NJ  - The practice of leasing a dog or cat as a family pet is now illegal in the State of New Jersey after Governor Phil Murphy’s signing of recently passed legislation into law. At the same time, Murphy signed a second bill making the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, or manufacturing of animal fighting paraphernalia a third degree crime. 

“As the owner of three pets and a strong proponent of animal protections, I am proud to sign legislation that bans the predatory practice of leasing dogs and cats and codifying the possession and trade of animal fighting equipment as a third-degree crime,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I thank the advocates and legislators that have fought for so long against these cruel and inhumane practices.” 

The second of the two bills was sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) who said that the law takes a comprehensive approach to combating animal fighting in New Jersey.

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“If officers find clear evidence of fighting activity, they should be able to charge a suspect regardless of whether they’ve seen the act take place,” Benson added. “When more abusers are brought to justice, the lives of more animals will be saved.” 

Violation of the law is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Brian Hacket, New Jersey State Director for The Humane Society of the United States, also weighed in on the bill’s signing saying that the action “marks a milestone in animal welfare,” as it makes New Jersey the 25th state to pass such enact such a law.