NJ Bill S2923 - AWFNJ’s Letter to Govenor Christie

August 25, 2011

The Honorable Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

RE: Bills S2923 – Request to Conditional Veto

Dear Governor Christie:

The Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey (AWFNJ), a collaboration of animal sheltering and welfare organizations and the general public in New Jersey is writing to you today to respectively request that you conditionally veto S2923 currently awaiting your signature. S2923 establishes a pilot program for spay/neuter, but will also negatively rewrite the current shelter impoundment language, endangering the lives of countless homeless animals in this state.

First, we applaud the legislature’s efforts to increase the number of shelter animals that are spay/neutered. However, as written this bill may put an unfair burden on already underfunded shelters to spay/neuter animals. Currently, animal shelters are the source of less than 30% of all companion animals. There is no similar requirement for the greater source of companion animals – family/friends, pet stores, “backyard” breeders or internet sales.

Paragraph (3), subsection d., section 2 allows an animal to be euthanized before the end of the
seven-day state mandated holding period if “the age, health, or behavior of the animal warrants euthanizing it before seven days has elapsed.” The AWFNJ believes this language will now supersede the seven-day holding requirement. Should that occur, our concern is that this change will allow feral cats to be euthanized immediately and takes away the incentive for shelters to address feral cat populations in a non-lethal manner- which has been highly successful in the state of New Jersey.

Additionally, allowing early euthanasia of stray dogs and cats (as proposed in Section 16 d. (3) on page 4 of S2923) because of a subjective determination of its “adoptability” is contrary to long-standing New Jersey law, and would preclude owners of such pets from locating and reclaiming their animals and put countless other adoptable animals that could be transferred to rescue groups or adopted at risk.

In addition, the AWFNJ has concerns with the language that does not allow for euthanasia for aggression unless the animal comes through as a stray. As currently written a stray can be euthanized for age, health, or behavior prior to the mandated stray hold and no language clarifies what the degrees of those issues need to be or what process should be used to determine that a pet is too “old” or “healthy.” Shelter staffs have seen many older, young, or animals with special needs adopted and this current language would remove the protection that the state law currently affords these pets.

There is also no provision made for aggression, age, or health unless received pursuant to
paragraph 1 in S2923 that allows that a shelter that received an animal other than pursuant to paragraph 1 (stray impound) would need to place the animal up for adoption for at least seven days. We fear that shelters, as well as adopters, may be put at risk if a surrendered pet, which may be aggressive, is put up for adoption during the seven-day time frame as prescribed in the bill. There is also no provision for health that may result in an animal suffering the entire duration of the seven day hold.

Mandating a seven-day hold for surrendered animals that are extremely ill or aggressive also would result in additional expense to municipalities and shelters, as well as potentially causing overcrowding and increased euthanasia of adoptable animals.

After carefully reviewing the bill in its entirety, we find it contains contradictory clauses, making it virtually impossible to enforce.

The AWFNJ is willing to work with the legislature to help draft a bill that addresses government concerns as well as shelter issues in New Jersey. We encourage you to conditionally veto S2923 so that an effective bill that addresses shelter issues in all their complexities might be written.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our concerns. Thank you for your attention to this urgent request that you conditionally veto Senate Bill #2923.

Sincerely,

Niki Dawson, President
Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Call Governor Christie and ask him to conditionally veto bill S2923
Phone 609-292-6000

Email the Governor’s Office at:
http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/

NJ Assembly Passes A1633

May 6, 2011

A1633 Permits court to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders.

More information to come

S 1643 Requires all cats and dogs released from shelters and pounds be sterilized with certain exceptions, and establishes penalty for noncompliance.

October 13, 2010

SENATE, No. 1643

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MARCH 4, 2010

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester)

SYNOPSIS

     Requires all cats and dogs released from shelters and pounds be sterilized with certain exceptions, and establishes penalty for noncompliance.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

An Act concerning the sterilization of cats and dogs and supplementing Title 4 of the Revised Statutes.

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

     1.    a.  (1) Notwithstanding any law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no cat or dog shall be released from a shelter or pound in the State unless it has been sterilized, except if an owner of a cat or dog who is reclaiming the cat or dog submits an exemption application to the shelter or pound with the required documentation pursuant to subsection b. of this section, or after submitting an exemption application, submits the required documentation as provided for under subsection c. of this section.  No provision of this section shall be construed to require the shelter or pound to sterilize a cat or dog unless it is being reclaimed, adopted, or otherwise released from the custody of the shelter or pound.

     No cat or dog received at a shelter or pound that has a registration, license or any other type of identification tag shall be sterilized until the cat or dog has not been claimed after being at the shelter or pound for seven days.  If the seven days elapse between the date that the owner of the cat or dog has submitted an exemption application without the required documentation and the date on which the owner returns with the required documentation, the cat or dog shall not be sterilized until the owner fails to comply with the provisions of subsection c. of this section.  The shelter or pound shall notify any owner seeking to reclaim a cat or dog of the requirements and the provisions of this subsection and subsections b. and c. of this section, in writing and at the time that the owner first seeks to reclaim the cat or dog.

     (2)   If a person reclaiming or adopting a cat or a dog from a shelter or pound does not obtain an exemption described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, the shelter or pound may charge the person for the cost of sterilizing the cat or dog prior to its release, up to a maximum payment of $100.

     b.    Any owner reclaiming a cat or a dog from a shelter or pound who expressly does not wish the cat or dog to be sterilized, shall, at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, submit an exemption application, provided by the shelter or pound, with one of the following:

     (1)   documentation that the cat or dog has been shown in the past 12 months and is registered as an American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association show animal, or a show animal of any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services;

     (2)   documentation from a licensed veterinarian that sterilizing the cat or dog would be detrimental to the health of the cat or dog, or that the cat or dog is too young to be sterilized properly;

     (3)   documentation of the American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association requirements that are inconsistent with the sterilization of the cat or dog, or such documentation from any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services; or

     (4)   documentation that the owner is a professional licensed breeder registered with the American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers’ Association, or any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

     c.     If the owner does not have the documentation required under subsection b. of this section at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, the owner shall return with the required documentation within seven days after submitting the exemption application, or by such time as otherwise agreed to by the shelter or pound,  and reclaim the cat or dog without the cat or dog being sterilized.

     d.    Any shelter or pound failing to sterilize a cat or dog pursuant to the provisions of this act, shall be liable to a penalty not to exceed $100 for each such unsterilized cat or dog released.  Penalties shall be collected by the municipality in which the shelter or pound is located in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The Superior Court and the municipal court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999.”  All penalties collected pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited into a special account created by the municipality for use in municipal animal control and welfare programs.

     e.     The Department of Health and Senior Services may adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), any rules or regulations necessary for the implementation of the provisions and requirements of this section.

     2.    This act shall take effect on July 1 next following enactment.

STATEMENT

     This bill provides that no cat or dog may be released from a shelter or pound in the State unless it has been sterilized, except if an owner of a cat or dog who is reclaiming the cat or dog submits an exemption application to the shelter or pound with the documentation required under the bill or, after submitting an exemption application, the owner submits the required
documentation as provided under the bill. The required documentation is one of the following:

     (1)   documentation that the cat or dog has been shown in the past 12 months and is registered as an American Kennel Club (AKC) or Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) show animal, or a show animal of any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS);

     (2)   documentation from a licensed veterinarian that sterilizing the cat or dog would be detrimental to the health of the cat or dog, or that the cat or dog is too young to be sterilized properly;

     (3)   documentation of the AKC or CFA requirements that are inconsistent with the sterilization of the cat or dog, or such documentation from any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the DHSS; or

     (4)   documentation that the owner is a professional licensed breeder registered with the AKC or CFA, or any successor organization recognized as a successor organization to either of these organizations by the DHSS.

     If the required documentation is not provided, the cat or dog must be sterilized before it is reclaimed or adopted.  The shelter or pound may charge the person reclaiming or adopting the cat or dog for the cost of sterilization, up to a maximum of $100.  The bill also provides that the shelter or pound is not required to sterilize a cat or dog unless it is being reclaimed, adopted, or otherwise released from the custody of the shelter or pound.

     Under the bill, if the owner does not have the required documentation at the time of reclaiming the cat or dog, the owner may return with the required documentation within seven days after submitting the exemption application, or at such time as otherwise agreed to by the shelter or pound, and reclaim the cat or dog without the cat or dog being sterilized.

     The bill further provides that no cat or dog received at a shelter or pound that has a registration, license or any other type of identification tag may be sterilized until the cat or dog has not been claimed after being at the shelter or pound for seven days.  If the seven days elapse between the date that the owner of the cat or dog has submitted an exemption application without the required documentation and the date on which the owner returns with the required documentation, the cat or dog could not be sterilized until the other provisions of the bill have been complied with.  The bill also requires that the shelter or pound notify any owner seeking to reclaim a cat or dog of the requirements and provisions of this bill, in writing and at the time that the owner first seeks to reclaim the cat or dog.

     The bill also makes any shelter or pound failing to sterilize a cat or dog liable to a penalty not to exceed $100 for any unsterilized cat or dog released.  Penalties would be collected by the municipality in which the shelter or pound is located in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999” and  deposited into a special account created by the municipality for use in municipal animal control and welfare programs.

Pending New Jersey legislation regarding animals or animal welfare is listed in this section by bill number. Unless otherwise noted, the AWFNJ does not specifically endorse or support these proposed bills. Bills are posted for information purposes only and we welcome your input on each of them.