Dog ownership laws.

Responsible owners of pets recognize the significance of following rules. While many New Jersey pet laws are in place to keep people out of trouble, most were designed to protect companion animals from harm. To prevent running afoul of any important statutes, and to forestall any potential harm you see to other people’s pets, we recommend brushing up on some of the most important pet laws in the Garden State.

What’s Up With Licensing?

The vaccination for rabies is required for all NJ cats and dogs, even if they reside primarily indoors. Once their first shot is administered and certified by a veterinarian, a pet owner can apply to the licensing clerk of their local municipality. To achieve a pet license, pet owners must show proof that their pet’s vaccination extends through ten out of the twelve licensing months. Their first shot is good for 12 months. After their second shot, they are good for three years. Their license must be visible on their collar whenever they are outside the home.

No “Hot Car” Law

While some states protect good samaritans that free trapped animals inside parked cars, there is currently no “Hot Car” law in New Jersey. In fact, you could be fined and charged with criminal mischief if you intervene.

The best thing you can do if/when you see a pet inside a parked car is to try to find the owner. If that’s not possible, call 911 for assistance. Law enforcement can safely and legally intereven for the animal’s welfare. 

Possible Animal Abuse or Neglect

New Jersey strictly prohibits animal abuse or neglect. Statute 4:22-17 Cruelty; certain acts, crime; degrees is very helpful to understand what constitutes cruelty. If you know or suspect that an animal isn’t being cared for properly, please reach out to your County Prosecutor’s Office or local police for assistance.

Dog Bite Laws

New Jersey has a “strict liability” law in place when an owner’s dog bites someone. This law helps victims receive damages from the pet owner, regardless of where the attack took place (provided the victim was there legally). There are various defenses common in cases like this, such as shared blame (if the victim taunted or teased the animal). 

Make sure your dog is thoroughly trained and socialized, and know your rights regarding unfamiliar, aggressive dogs. 

Limiting Distractions

Restraining your dog while cruising around in the car might rain on their parade, but this law is for everyone’s good. Dogs that like to run from side window to side window, sit on the owner’s lap while they’re driving, or generally causing serious distractions on the road can lead to major accidents. Owners can be charged with a hefty fine (up to $1,000!), or face an offence of animal cruelty if their dog is not safely restrained in the car. 

Other New Jersey Pet Laws

Have questions about pet waste? Look no further than this ordinance that explains what to do (and not do) with pet waste

Another important rule for dog owners is, unless inside a designated off-leash run or walk, dogs should be leashed in all public places. Leashes longer than 6-feet long don’t provide the control that is often needed. 

There are many other New Jersey pet laws that may come up during your experience as a pet owner. If you have any questions or concerns about your responsibilities, please call us at (732) 531-1212.