New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. N.J. Department of Agriculture, 955 A.2d 886 (2008) (N.J. Sup.)

Case Summary:

In a case we litigated on behalf of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, and a coalition of other animal welfare organizations and farmers, the New Jersey Supreme Court on July 30, 2008 issued a landmark decision regarding the humane treatment of farmed animals. In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the New Jersey Department of Agriculture failed to fulfill its legislative mandate to develop "humane" standards for the care of domestic livestock because it had unlawfully exempted from the state's animal cruelty code all "routine husbandry practices." The Court further rejected agency regulations that certain mutilations of farmed animals such as castration, debeaking, and toe-trimming are "humane" as long as they are carried out by a "knowledgeable individual" "in a way to minimize pain." The Court ruled that such regulations created a standardless and "unworkable enforcement scheme." In addition, the Court overturned a regulation authorizing the tail docking of cattle, on the grounds that there is no evidence that this practice is humane.

Plaintiffs: New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Farm Sanctuary

Court: New Jersey Supreme Court