by Jeanne Hambleton © 2008
NFA Leader Against Pain-International Advocate
Congo, the German Shepherd dog from Princeton, New Jersey, who has been facing the death penalty for the last nine months as a “vicious dog”, will learn about his future in a few days, on Friday April 4.
But as this family dog awaits the verdict Congo’s supporters all over the world are being urged to please write Judge Mitchel Ostrer, polite and professional, letters of
support for Congo. Meanwhile the new Bill Congo’s Law that may have helped to save Congo’s life, lies ‘pending’ in the offices of the Senate.
Congo was put on “death row” nine months ago after protecting his mistress, a female dog and three puppies, from an alleged attack with rake by a gardening contractor. When news of his fate reached the Internet animal activists and dog lovers all over the world signed petitions and sent emails to the Judge in Princeton, home of Congo, to save the dog’s life.
Since then petitions and websites have sprung up supporting Congo as American Assemblyman Neil M Cohen from the New Jersey Senate proposed a Bill to save the life of Congo, from his death sentence and review the out-of-date vicious dog laws.
Neil Cohen’s bill will revise state animal control law provisions that are archaic and barbaric by making it more difficult to label a dog vicious or to put an animal down.
Neil Cohen is quoted as saying,”Congo’s case underscores the need for the state to modernize the law that deals with dog attacks so it is fair for the owners and the animals.”
The Bill started its passage through the Senate in December as A.4597 and changed to S3010. It is currently waiting further discussion by a committee of the Senate under the number A1603.
I was advised by the Legislative Information and Bill Room that the Assembly Bill A4597 made it to second reading in the Assembly but was never voted upon before the session ended on January 8, 2008.
The communication read, “The bill has been reintroduced into the current session (2008-2009) and the new Bill number is Assembly Bill A1603. A 1603 was introduced on January 8, 2008 and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. There is no action scheduled for the Bill at this time. The
current sponsors of the Bill are listed below. You may also find this
Bill and much more by visiting the NJ Legislature’s website at
Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen Democrat
District Office: 985 Stuyvesant Ave., Union, NJ 07083
Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. Democrat
District Office: 908 Oak Tree Ave., Unit P, South Plainfield, NJ
Assemblyman Richard A. Merkt Republican
District Office: 12 Old Brookside Rd., Randolph, NJ 07869
Assemblyman Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr. Republican
District Office: 32 Monmouth St., 3rd Floor, Red Bank, NJ 07701 (732)-933-1591.”
On March 17 further news from the Legislative Information and Bill Room reported, “Congo’s law was reintroduced for the 2008/2009 session with the new Bill number of A1603. It is currently in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources committee with no hearings scheduled at this time.
“I believe the April 4, 2008 date has to do with a court hearing on the case. This would have nothing to do with the Legislature so I would have no information on it.”
Today’s entry in my search for an up date on Congo’s Law showed the following –
A1603 Revises vicious and potentially dangerous dog law; designated Congo’s Law. Agriculture and Natural Resources
Last Session Bill Number: A4597 (2R) S3010
Cohen, Neil M. as Primary Sponsor
Diegnan, Patrick J., Jr. as Primary Sponsor
Merkt, Richard A. as Primary Sponsor
O’Scanlon, Declan J., Jr. as Primary Sponsor
1/8/2008 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Lawyer Robert Lytle who is acting for Congo’s owners, Guy and Elizabeth James, will be fighting to save the family pet’s life when Judge Ostrer hears both sides of the argument during the appeal to save Congo’s life. The lawyer believes that animals have as much right as we have to defend themselves. The prosecutor is claiming there was provocation but the dog’s reaction was disproportion.
So Congo needs all the support he can get if he is to live the rest of his days with his family. All dog lovers are urged to write to the Judge pleading for Congo’s life at
MITCHEL E. OSTRER- his direct phone number – 609-571-4188
Mercer County Courthouse
209 South Broad & Market Streets
PO Bo x 8068
Anne Soden and Daphne who sent this information to me, are asking PLEASE
mention in your letter or phone call that he needs to take into consideration that the laws are old and they don’t take in to consideration how the dog perceived the threat. Also, there is no case law out there in NJ that has interpreted the statutes. This is the first one. Another point to use is that the last case of a dog attack was back in 1994 and the Governor then, Christine Whitman, had pardoned the Akita and he was exiled from the State. This is a last resort option so we can keep him alive.
Also, please contact Governor Jon Corzine at 609-292-6000 and ask the
Governor to pardon Congo.
You can also email him at:
and where is says- Select a Topic choose- “Law and Public Safety”
and select a Sub-topic, choose-“Pardons and Clemency”
and fill in your information to send a note to him.
You don’t have to live in New Jersey to call or email our governor. PLEASE GIVE CONGO YOUR SUPPORT.
As far Congo’s Law a spokesman for Assembly Neil Cohen is reported as saying the Bill is still pending.
Assemblyman Neil Cohen, an attorney, who sponsored Congo’s Law