New Jersey lawmakers are taking more steps to prevent animal cruelty.
One of the bills advanced by an Assembly committee would authorize judges to prohibit someone convicted of animal abuse from interacting with animals.
A disturbing number of animal abuse cases are related to domestic disputes, said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.
"It happens when there's a jilted lover, when the rejected spouse or partner or boyfriend or girlfriend, they'll often take out their anger on the family pet," he said.
Another bill sponsored by Gusciora, D-Mercer, expands animal cruelty laws to include the theft or release of an animal during a burglary.
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There have been heartbreaking cases of family pets killed or injured when someone steals them or causes them to run off because of a home break-in, he said.
"There was a Princeton instance where a house was burglarized and then the culprits left the door opened and allowed two of the pets to escape," Gusciora said, adding the runaway pets were later killed by wild animals.
Allowing judges to issue protection orders in animal abuse cases might deter someone from harming a pet during a domestic dispute, according to Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director of the Humane Society.