Christie signs bill stripping NJSPCA of its power

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Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Monday removing power from the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and giving responsibility for animal cruelty investigations to county prosecutors. 

KIYC: What’s next for the NJSPCA after being stripped of authority?
RELATED: Lawmakers vote to strip NJSPCA of its authority

The bill was inspired by a 15-month Kane In Your Corner investigation, followed by a scathing report by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation. 

“I’m just happy the animals will finally be getting what they deserve,” said Collene Wronko, the leader of Reformers NJ, which led a grassroots effort to replace the NJSPCA.

The NJSPCA will be phased out over the next six months. County SPCAs will remain in existence, meaning that county animal shelters will be unaffected. The legislation was authored by now-retired Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) and passed the state Legislature on the last day of his 40-year legislative career. 

"A new day arrives for abused and abandoned animals in New Jersey, as law enforcement will do what law enforcement knows best: enforce the laws. And county SPCAs will be free to do what they do best: provide for and care for abused and abandoned animals," Lesniak said.

Lesniak credited the law to a Kane In Your Corner investigation, which began in the fall of 2016 and exposed numerous issues, including animal cruelty cases apparently sitting uninvestigated, no-bid contracts between the NJSPCA and companies owned by its board of trustees, and various other financial irregularities.

The push to remove the NJSPCA as the state’s “animal police” gathered additional steam in October, when the SCI issued a scathing report recommending it be dissolved.

The NJSPCA and its well-connected Trenton lobbying firm, MBI-Gluckshaw, had been aggressively opposing the legislation, but the NJSPCA may have dealt itself a fatal blow with a plan to use assumed names and anonymous emails to lobby lawmakers. The plan was outlined in an email from an NJSPCA trustee to more than 50 of the group’s law enforcement officers.

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