When men and women feel threatened by their boyfriend, girl friend or spouse, because of violent and abusive behavior, they can go to a judge and seek a restraining order to keep the individual away from them.

Now, the Jersey Assembly has approved a measure that provides stricter protections for animals in danger of abuse.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the sponsor of the legislation, says “as a humane society, we should not tolerate abuses against animals any more than we would against a person - we’ve seen a number of high profile animal abuse cases in recent years, a good number of which arise from domestic disputes, lending even more support for this legislation.  Whether it’s indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals.”

The measure would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against any person found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating the state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.

The animal protection order may apply to a specific animal with which the individual has contact, or any other animal, as determined to be appropriate by the court.

Anyone who knowingly violates a condition of an animal protection order issued, and causes injury to the animal that is the subject of the animal protection order, would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

The legislation now heads to the State Senate for consideration.