State Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) is introducing legislation that would increase penalties for those convicted of animal abuse.

O'Scanlon said:

I don't care who you are, whether you generally like animals or not ... we're going to make it clear, that going forward, anyone who commits such acts, will do so."

Right now a person can be charged with a low-level disorderly persons offense under some conditions of animal cruelty, but O'Scanlon wants to introduce "aggravated animal abuse", which would be considered a second-degree or third-degree crime. Disorderly persons offenses are usually taken to Municipal Court, but second or third-degree crimes can lead to jail time.

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This decision was mostly inspired by the disgusting story of the Highlands man who left a dog in a cage to drown. I'm a dog owner, but like O'Scanlon said, whether or not you like dogs is irrelevant to the fact that the type of person who would let another living creature die a slow, painful, horrifying death deserves a severe punishment.

[Jen Ursillo of Townsquare News has more to the story.]

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