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TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that would consider the tattooing or piercing of a pet animal cruelty.

The legislation, introduced by three Hudson County Democrats, aims to protect animals from what they consider to be "needless mutilation."

"We've got to do everything we can to protect these animals," Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, the bill's lead sponsor, said in an interview Monday afternoon. "I'm proactively making sure this doesn't happen to animals."

Though Garcia said there are no publicly documented cases of household pets being pierced or tattooed in the state, he said a constituent recently brought the issue to his attention after she saw a tattoo on a dog. Tattooing the animal, he said, "takes it to the extent of mutilation and animal cruelty."

While it hasn't made headlines in New Jersey, Garcia said he hopes this bill would dissuade and "proactively prohibit" people from piercing or tattooing pets.

Garcia also referenced the case of a Pennsylvania woman who was convicted in 2010 of animal cruelty after she tried to sell "gothic" kittens with piercings.

The bill would exempt farm animals that are sometimes branded or tagged for identification purposes.

Garcia said the proposal is based on legislation that passed through New York's legislature and is awaiting the governor's signature.

Garcia said he hopes the bill introduced Monday, along with the New York legislation, would start a trend of these types of laws throughout the country.

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