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With your help, The Lesniak Institute
championed legislation banning
wild animals in circuses

the Bear Hunt


Ban Gestation Crates

Fight For Desmond’s Law

Advocates for Animals

The Lesniak Institute advocates for animal welfare, training the next generation of American Leaders to protect animals from cruelty and extinction.

Help us continue to advance animal welfare as The Lesniak Institute For American Leadership advocates for legislation to make New Jersey The Humane State and promote animal welfare across America and in every nation.

Help us continue to advance animal welfare by donating to our cause.

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Pedals’ Law

We’re working to prevent the extinction of the New Jersey Black Bear population by ending bear hunting and implementing non-lethal methods of bear management

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The Fight to stop bear hunting in New Jersey continues. Legislative efforts by Senator Lesniak have not moved beyond being released from Committee (Senator Lesniak first sponsored legislation to end bear hunting and establish more effective non-lethal policies to reduce human interactions with bears December 12, 2012. On October 13, 2016, he reintroduced it as Pedals’ Law. Pedals’ Law has been reintroduced in the current legislative session S2769 (Cunningham/Gopal) A2455 (Quijano/Vainieri Huttle) and awaits Committee action in the Senate and Assembly.)

Governor Murphy has taken action to reduce the number of bear hunting permits issued these rules. We urge Governor Murphy to fill the vacancies on the Fish and Game Council with animal friendly appointees to implement the Bear Smart policies in Pedal’s Law

Rather than hunting the New Jersey Black Bear population to extinction, this legislation will enact community-wide mandates in bear country regarding proper waste disposal to promote a safe and happy relationship between bears and humans.

The bill is named in honor of Pedals, an injured docile bipedal New Jersey Black Bear, who was beloved. Pedals, who walked like a human because of his disfigured front legs, was maliciously killed in October of 2016.

Pedals’ Law, when enacted, will require bear resistant trash containers and prohibit food waste left outside by homeowners, which would significantly reduce the amount of bears in communities. It will provide New Jersey with common sense practices now used in states with much greater bear populations, such as Alaska and California. Removing easy access to human foods has proven to reduce human interaction with bears. This is the most effective and moral approach to living with bears rather than having bear hunts to make up for the lack of common sense laws and human behavior.

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The practice of luring bears to a specific location by leaving food over the course of days or weeks in order to draw it back to the same location to be hunted during hunting season is immoral and equivalent to shooting fish in a barrel and is not a sport. It also acclimates bears to human food which increases the chance of bears leaving their natural habitat in search for the newly discovered treats.

Take Action

Protection for Black Bears, known as S2769/A2455, is awaiting Senate and Assembly Committee action. The bill wasn’t posted for a vote despite it being moved out of the Environmental Committee. To end the bear hunt now, contact Governor Murphy and ask him to make bear smart appointments to the Fish and Wildlife Council.

Shut Down Puppy Mills

We’re working to shut down Puppy Mills doing business in New Jersey – those driven solely by greed and which care little about the welfare of the dogs and cats they sell – or the loving pet owners they sell them to.

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Puppy Mills are large-scale commercial establishments that breed dogs to sell typically on an intensive basis and in inhumane conditions. Dogs and cats are bred without consideration of genetic quality producing dogs and cats with heredity defects. Legislation sponsored by Senator Lesniak banning Puppy Mills was vetoed by Governor Christie.

Pending legislation S2658/A1454 will ban the sale of puppies and cats in New Jersey from breeders which have three or more USDA violations on their record.

Medium sized dogs stand on the fencing of their pens during an animal rescue, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Madison Co., Arkansas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for The Humane Society of the United States)


Puppy Mills put profit above the well-being of the animals. Female dogs and cats are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When the dog/cat is no longer able to produce offspring, it is usually euthanized. Every year in America, it is estimated that 2.11 milion puppies are sold. In Puppy Mills, dogs/cat can spend most of their lives cramped in cages with contaminated water and food, crawling with bugs.

Puppies sold at pet stores often have serious health or psychological problems. Some of the illnesses common to pet store puppies include zoonotic diseases which can be spread to other pets and humans.

Take Action

A ban against Puppy Mills, S2658/A1454, has been has been introduced in the Senate and Assembly. New Jersey residents please contact your legislators and urge them to pass S2658/A1454 into law.


Puppy Mills in the U.S.


Percent of the time circus animals are held captive in cages


Bears are killed each year

Advocate for Pigs

We’re working to ban pig gestation crates which create pain, fear, and stress to pigs–animals that form elaborate, cooperative social groups and feel pain, fear, and stress.

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Legislation banning pig gestation crates, S161 (Gopal) A3752 (Mukherji), is  awaiting action in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly. This legislation prohibits the confinement of gestating pigs in a manner that prevents them from standing up and turning around. It passed both Houses last legislative session sponsored by Senator Lesniak, but was vetoed by Governor Christie.

Many food producers and retailers are agreeing to eliminate products where gestation crates were used, including New Jersey’s Campbell Soup Company, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Compass Group, Safeway, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and ARAMARK.

For decades, most U.S. pork producers have raised pigs this way. However, the use of gestation crates is starting to decline as scientists, voters, lawmakers, and retailers are rejecting extreme forms of farm animal confinement.

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Confining pigs in gestation crates is extremely cruel. The 2-foot-wide cages are so narrow, the pigs cannot even stand up and turn around. They chew on the bars, wave their heads incessantly back and forth, or lie on the pavement in an apparent state of dejection. Nearly immobilized, they spend most of their lives denied the ability to walk.

For a brief period before and after giving birth, sows are placed in slightly larger farrowing crates; they still can’t turn around. Their piglets are taken away and the sows are impregnated once more and returned to gestation crates to start the entire cycle of misery again.

Take Action

The gestation crate ban, S161/A3752, is awaiting Senate and Assembly action. New Jersey residents, contact your legislators and urge them to pass S161/A3752 into law.

Fight for Desmond’s Law

Desmond’s law will give a voice to abused animals by allowing law students and volunteer lawyers to serve as legal advocates for animals that are the victims of animal abuse.



Bill A4840/S3322 will allow law students and appointed representatives to be animal advocates in criminal cases regarding cruelty, dog fighting, and other welfare abuses. The representative will be permitted to monitor the case, attend hearings, consult individuals with knowledge of the welfare of the animal, view records regarding the animal’s welfare, and present their recommendations to prosecutors and the court regarding the best interest of the cat or dog.


Why Advocate?

Animal welfare cases are often pushed aside as other legal matters take precedence  and are too often treated like traffic violations. Supervised law students and lawyer volunteers would be allowed to advocate on behalf of the best team interest of the animal and also give law students the opportunity to get hands on in court experience. 

Animals that are abused far too often do not receive justice and suffer more abuse by a legal system that overlooks animal abuse. The humans responsible for hurting these animals sometimes go without facing consequences for their actions. Because of this failure of the criminal justice system, humans who hurt animals are not required to do go through rehabilitation and often times reoffend. Often animal abusers go on to commit offenses to humans. According to The National Link Coalition, 70% of people charged with cruelty to animals were known by local authority for displays of violent behavior. New Jersey’s Desmond’s law will give law students an opportunity to be advocates for animals who have no voice in our criminal justice system.

Take Action

Desmond’s Law A4840/S3322 has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature.  Please contact your legislators and urge them to support Desmond’s Law, A4840/S3322.


NJ Bans Wild Animals in Circuses

The Lesniak Institute championed New Jersey legislation banning wild animals in circuses which was signed into law on December 14, 2017.  We will continue our advocacy to end this cruelty across America and throughout the world.

Check out the Ray of Hope Show: Nosey’s Law.  See the abuse and how to stop it at