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Bipartisan 'Dusty's Law' gains N.J. Senate approval to protect service animals

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Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana's legislation known as Dusty's Law was approved in the New Jersey Senate on Thursday. The bill, A-4105, will establish criminal penalties for anyone interfering, killing, or maiming any service animal reported the Cliffviewpilot.com.

The bill was named after a young German shepherd dog in training named Dusty who was attacked and mauled by another dog in Bergen County's Woodcliff Lake in July 2010. Dusty required extensive surgery and medical treatment and was so traumatized by the attack, he was unable to ever become a seeing eye dog.

Seeing eye dogs and other service dogs are bred to be non-aggressive, and the dogs are not likely to leave the side of their humans even when attacked.

According to politicker.n.j.com, Rumana stressed how important service dogs are to people with disabilities:

“Guide dogs provide an invaluable benefit to those with disabilities. For individuals who are blind, deaf or have vision or hearing impairments, they are their eyes and ears.This measure is a major step in recognizing the important role these vital animals play in assisting those with an impairment and sends a message that abusing or killing these animals will have significant repercussions.”

The law would also include all animals that aid in law enforcement including horses and search and rescue animals.

In the event of the death of a service animal, the guilty party could face an 18 month prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Any person allowing a service dog to be injured would face a disorderly person's charge and could be punished up to six months in prison.

Responsible parties would also be required to pay restitution for the death of a service dog or reimburse owners for their service animal's veterinary expenses.

Governor Christie is expected to sign the bill into law.

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