On September 22, 2017, the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR) offered its 24th Annual IACUC Conference,  – “the region’s premier training conference for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee members, lab animal veterinarians, animal welfare compliance specialists and lab animal research team members.”

As described, the conference focused “focus on opportunities to improve laboratory animal welfare, while reducing regulatory burdens, cutting red tape and creating efficiencies within institutions.”  Toward that end, presenters from NIH and USDA (Patricia Brown, VMD, MS, Director, NIH, OLAW and William S. Stokes, ACLAM, DACAW, BCES, FATS, Assistant Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA, APHIS, respectively) requested recommendations from the attendees to reduce unnecessary or redundant regulatory burdens to researchers.

Following morning presentations, discussed further below, the conference included the following workshop selections that attendees could attend:

AAALAC Perspectives on Occupational Health & Safety Programs

Presenter: Richard B. Huneke, DVM, Council Member Emeritus

Animal Care & Use Committee Scenarios: You Make the Call

Presenter: Pam Straeter, RLATG, Asst. Director, Research Integrity and Assurance, Princeton University

Legal Update: USDA, Animals and the Law                               

Presenter: Nancy Halpern, DVM, Esq., Attorney, Fox Rothschild

New IACUC Member – Double Session   

Presenter: Amy Salem, PhD, Associate Director of Operations and Training for Animal Welfare, Merck

Ask the Regulators                                                                    

Presenters:

Patricia Brown, VMD, MS, Director, Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare

Tonya Hadjis, DVM, Supervisory Animal Care Specialist, Northeast Area, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care

John F. Lopinto, DVM, Veterinary Medical Officer, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care

Ashley C. McIntosh, DVM, Veterinary Medical Officer, USDA, APHIS

Animal Reproducibility & Relatability of Animal Research to Human Research

Panelists:

Damir Hamamdzic, DVM, PhD, Research and Regulatory Affairs, Post-Approval Monitoring Compliance Administrator, Rutgers University

Sarah E. Robertson, PhD, Director, Sponsored Projects and Research, University of the Sciences

Laszlo Szabo, Esq., Director, Research and Regulatory Affairs, Rutgers University

Andrew Gow, Ph.D., Professor and IACUC Chair, Rutgers University

Elizabeth Dodemaide, BVSc, MA, MANZCVS, Director Comparative Medicine Resources, Rutgers University

Gregory Reinhard, DVM, Director, Animal Welfare, University of Pennsylvania

Strategies to Enhance Animal Welfare Compliance Monitoring

Presenters:

Pharmaceutical: Lisa Stanislawczyk, Bristol-Myers Squibb, CRO: Mary Ann Jacobs, Envigo

Academic: Greg Reinhard, MBA, DVM, University of Pennsylvania, The Role of the Statistician in Study Design, IACUC Protocol Preparation Data Analysis

Presenter: Alfred Barron, Associate Director, Nonclinical Statistics/TMEDS, Janssen Research & Development

The keynote speaker, Jim Welch, Executive Director of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation, presented a phenomenal motivational talk about “the importance of safe work practices, biosecurity, and collaboration among organizations and institutions seeking to advance scientific discovery.”  It does not sound like a topic that would lend itself to a motivational talk, anyone looking for a keynote should consider Jim.

Overall, it was another great conference.

 

As reported by Texas Department of Agriculture the following needs for livestock have been identified:

Donation of Hay and Feed:
The Department is currently working with Texas A&M AgriLife for donations of animal hay and feed. If you would like to donate hay, please call, text or email the TDA staff listed at the number listed below and let us know where the closest drop off location is for you. In your message, please provide your name, phone number, location and type of hay or feed to be donated and whether you have transportation.

Transport
Please note that we do not have transport but we are maintaining contact info for hay donors in the event we get offers for transport or others in your area who may be able to pick up hay. If you have transportation services that you can offer to help bring hay to the Coast from throughout Texas, we need your help! Please give us a call.

Pasture
If you have pasture, please contact us with your information to be put in our database for those who need help. If you are in need of pasture space, please contact us and we can provide information for someone with pasture who may be closest to you and provide assistance.

Water Troughs
If you have water troughs to donate, please contact us for donating those as well. Several of the supply points are in severe need for those.

Contact Jessica Escobar at (512) 803-7847 or Jessica.Escobar@TexasAgriculture.gov if you can help.

Southwest FarmPress reports that hay drops are underway to reach cattle that are lost, stranded, or unable to be reached by ranchers “where flood waters remain standing in fields and roads are still closed and impassable.”

Fortunately, aviation units from the Texas National Guard, from Alabama, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi and other states are responding, loading bales of hay and  launching what promises to be the largest air drop of hay in history, an attempt to provide rescue food for livestock until waters finally recede and herds can be collected, treated, and moved to safety.

 

Choppers have been flying non-stop as state animal biologists and state animal health veterinarians with the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) attempt to identify where small groups of animals are stuck in mud or stranded in water from aerial photographs, from satellite photos and by using UAV (drone) fly-overs.

Still, the loss of livestock, yet to be determined, is expected to be devastating.

As those of us fortunate enough to be outside of the reach of Irma watch with concern about the impact this storm is wreaking on Florida and its human and animal residents, it is important to keep in mind how we can all help from afar.

When it comes to disaster response affecting animals, Florida has some of the best trained and experienced State and County Agricultural Response teams in the country, ready to implement their decades-long training and plans to help pets, livestock, and wild animals.

Like other states, Florida’s emergency response plans are developed by and with the Division of Emergency Management which “prepares and implements a statewide Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, and routinely conducts extensive exercises to test state and county emergency response capabilities.”

Florida’s Department of Agriculture plays a critical role in disaster response, similar to the state emergency operations plan in New Jersey, where the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is the lead agency for the following Appendices in Emergency Support Function 11 (Agricultural Annex):

  • Appendix A-Food
  • Appendix B-Animals-Veterinary Services and Animal Care
  • Appendix C-Animals-Highly Contagious or Economically Devastating Animal Diseases
  • Appendix D-Animals-Highly Contagious or Economically Devastating Animal Diseases (Zoonotic)
  • Appendix E-Plants/Crops-Highly Contagious or Economically Devastating Plant Pest Infestation/Diseases
  • Appendix F-Farmer Assistance.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the lead agency for animal and agricultural emergencies.

To fulfill its responsibilities as lead to emergency support function seventeen (ESF-17), the Department facilitated the development of the State Agricultural Response Team (SART) as a planning, training, and response support group with the aid of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF IFAS), UF College of Veterinary Medicine, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). SART partners have specific interests and resources that can be utilized to address the needs of the State of Florida. SART is composed of partner agencies and organizations including local, state, and federal agencies, private sector entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Florida’s SART website lists the following states that have also developed their own state animal response teams, including Maine, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Louisiana.

 

In Texas, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) works with USDA to

plan, collaborate, and coordinate with the states’ animal health-related agencies, agriculture industries, and other related agencies and parties. TAHC and USDA work to prevent and respond to foreign animal disease outbreaks, dangerous parasite or pest infestations, and bioterrorism. The agencies are ready to assist in response and recovery during natural or man-made catastrophes, including fires, floods, and hurricanes, in accordance with the FEMA Emergency Response Plan and/or the State of Texas Emergency plan in the following areas: Animal ownership identification, livestock restraint/capture, carcass disposal, coordinating livestock evacuation, consulting on animal health and public health concerns, and chemical/biological terrorism issues.

On their website, TAHC provided the following update on September 9, 2017:

The Animal Response Operations Coordination Center is now in day 15 of Hurricane Harvey response and recovery.

TAHC animal assessment teams deployed – 2 teams of at least two people each. We are scaling back but will continue efforts until all animal needs are met

The following counties were completed by ground or air – Aransas, Austin, Bee, Bastrop, Brazos, Brazoria, Burleson, Calhoun, Caldwell, Chambers, Colorado, Dewitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nueces, Newton, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Trinity, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Washington, Waller, and Wharton.

TAHC and partners have assessed more than 18,881 livestock by air and ground.

If an animal has been without food for several days, introduce food slowly, in small amounts. Gorging maybe harmful to some animals, especially pet birds.

TAHC is continuing to work with partners to deliver hay and feed to stranded livestock.

Information explaining disposal of dead animals can be found online at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/emergency/index.html.

Hay transportation is a critical need. If you are able to transport donated hay, please contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension hotline at 979-845-7800.

If you own or see livestock that need assistance call your local authorities.

If you have an animal (livestock or pet) that needs to be sheltered, call 211.

Total animals (livestock and pets) currently housed in shelters reporting to TAHC:

Livestock (cattle, horses, small ruminants, swine, poultry): 2098

Pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, pet birds, potbelly pigs): 1298

The TAHC is grateful to the #TexasArmyNationalGuard for delivering more than 210,000 pounds of hay to the marooned livestock this week.

If you need assistance or have questions about how you can help, call the Harvey Hotline 512-719-0799 or visit http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/emergency/index.html.

As the former New Jersey State Veterinarian, responsible for drafting and implementing disaster plans in this state, I know how important and helpful donations to the proper entity can be.

Therefore, anyone interested in donating money or supplies for animals in need in Florida or Texas should visit the websites of the agency with primary responsibility for responding to these emergencies.  For example, in Texas, the TAHC identified hay and livestock feed as one of the most critical needs, but those needs may change in the days to come.

For those in harms way, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

 

As we have seen in footage covering the events following Hurricane Harvey and the unprecedented rain and flooding related thereto, it is extremely important for governments, animal-related business owners and animal owners to take all possible steps to plan for disasters that affect people and animals.

For livestock owners, that means planning to relocate herds and flocks.  When flocks cannot be relocated, back up generators are required to provide electricity for proper maintenance of poultry housing.  Dairy farmers may need government assistance to allow for, or assist, bulk tank pickups to continue.  Local governments must include these facilities in their emergency planning to provide for the adequate care of these animals.

For zoos and aquariums that means planning for adequate temporary containers and caging for relocation, or adequate facilities to shelter in place.  The specialized care required for these animals should be part of emergency planning.

For biomedical research facilities, planning must include the ability of trained personnel to return to the facilities to care for any animals that cannot be evacuated.

For companion animal owners, that means having suitable transport caging available, special medications and feed for the animal(s) with proof of vaccination, and permanent identification of the animals so they can be returned to the owner if separated during the disaster.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, and many other national and local veterinary and animal-related associations have been reporting on and providing assistance to those in need following Hurricane Harvey, and have reported, in part:

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) reports that the number of small animals in temporary shelters is fewer than anticipated. However, there are still several counties in southeast Texas that have not been assessed for animal needs because they are difficult to access. TAHC will begin coordination calls among partner animal shelters soon to better identify the number of pets being sheltered from the storm.

More than 6500 pets are being sheltered in temporary emergency shelters in Louisiana

Some organizations have worked together to create and update a map that assists in identifying available services (e.g., shelters, pet stores, veterinary services).

The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) deployed to the affected areas the day before Harvey hit and continues to assess and provide care for animals in need. This includes search and rescue dogs, pets, horses, cattle, and other livestock that are separated from their owners, as well as wildlife species in need. In addition to small animals, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital reports they have taken in 34 horses and 2 camels thus far.

Approximately 1.2 million cattle (about 27% of the state’s 4.46 million beef cow herd) are located in the 54 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. Fortunately many ranchers, assisted by police, were able to herd their cattle to safer ground ahead of the hurricane.

The take home message for all is that disasters―natural or man-made―can happen at any time.  If you own animals, it is important that you take the time to plan for these disasters, and hopefully, you will never have to implement those plans.

For those victims of Hurricane Harvey, we wish you, your families and animals a speedy recovery.

New York recently amended laws governing pet dealers by:

(1) exempting incorporated animal shelters, rescue organizations or other non-profit entities that transport or offer animals for adoption (a/k/a “sale”) from the statutory definition of “pet dealer,” and (2) requiring those entities to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets and provide certain information on an annual basis.  See S5599.

The information that must be reported to the State includes:

The number of animal taken in, adopted, placed into permanent or temporary homes, or otherwise transferred into, out of, or within the state by the applicant during the prior calendar year. S5599 at S. 408 (G).

At first glance, these amendments start the long-needed steps to regulate sales of pets through the largely unregulated retail rescue channels, but the following are some concerns about the law (some of which may have been preexisting):

THE COMMISSIONER MAY DENY ANY APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION AS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISIONS ONE AND TWO OF THIS SECTION OR REVOKE ANY REGISTRATION ALREADY GRANTED, AFTER WRITTEN NOTICE TO THE APPLICANT OR REGISTRANT AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD, WHEN:

THE APPLICANT OR REGISTRANT, OR AN OFFICER OR DIRECTOR HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF A MISDEMEANOR OR FELONY ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENSE BY A COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OR ANY STATE OR TERRITORY THEREOF, WITHOUT SUBSEQUENT PARDON BY THE GOVERNOR OR OTHER APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OR JURISDICTION IN WHICH SUCH CONVICTION OCCURRED, OR RECEIPT OF A CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF FROM DISABILITIES OR A CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE TWENTY-THREE OF THE CORRECTION LAW  Section 4 (C).

Similar to animal abuse registries, this section bans individuals from working with animals forever, for potentially minor infractions.  More thought should be placed on the type of conduct for which this type of lifetime punishment is warranted.  As I have discussed before, historically, many accused of animal cruelty offenses, even if innocent, have opted to plead guilty to minor offenses since the cost of defense far outweighs the fines.  It is unclear, whether this law is retrospective or prospective regarding such convictions.

Another area of concern is the exclusion of shelters and rescues from warranties pet stores must provide when selling pets to provide owners recourse if the pet develops clinical signs of infectious diseases within 14 days of sale.  Since animals sold through shelter and rescue channels have a greater likelihood of exposure to infectious diseases, veterinarians should be required to examine, treat and inform new owners about the results of those examinations at the time of adoption/sale.  The state should consider requiring pets sold through these channels to be held for a reasonable period of time before sale to increase the chance that clinical signs of infectious disease can be diagnosed before sale.  Owners should be informed about any congenital defects that are evident to the veterinarian before sale.  Notifying new owners about infectious disease and congenital defects is critical to ensure the pet will be placed in a home where owners can afford to treat these often expensive conditions to treat.

Another concern is based on a comment from the sponsor, Senator Boyle, in his press release―the purpose of the bill is to eliminate the:

Pet Dealer License exemption, which has sometimes been exploited by former pet dealers and animal resellers who realized they could successfully avoid state oversight by obtaining a not-for-profit status.

Hopefully this comment is not directed toward pet stores that have been bullied into ceasing sales of professionally-bred dogs and are instead providing pets obtained from shelters and rescue organizations.  These stores should be able to register as non-profits, like the other entities providing similar pets.

Of course a huge obstacle to such pet stores trying to convert to the “humane model” espoused by animal rights organizations (despite the lack of evidence that this model actually works) is the requirement in New York for any animal non-profit to be approved by the ASPCA, one of the most profitable non-profit animal rights organizations in the country.

It would seem that there is an inherent conflict if the ASPCA with a decades-old campaign against pet stores that sell puppies, is in a position to approve or deny the non-profit application of a pet store converting to non-profit status.

Hopefully, the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets can address some of these concerns in regulations.

 

In New Jersey, yet another bill amending the animal cruelty statute (S1640) was recently passed into law.  The amendments “[e]stablish . . . requirements concerning necessary care of dogs, domestic companion animals, and service animals, and for tethering of dogs.”

Many of the other provisions requiring “necessary care” to a companion animal are reasonable if the laws are appropriately enforced by professional law officers, who have sought guidance from individuals with expertise in animal health, care, and handling.  Unfortunately this is not the case in New Jersey, where the animal cruelty statute is improperly enforced.

This makes the following provision extremely problematic and of concern to companion animal owners and their attorneys in the State:

any humane law enforcement officer or agent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, certified animal control officer, or other State or local law enforcement officer may immediately enter onto private property where a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal is located and take physical custody of the animal, if the officer or agent has reasonable suspicion to believe that the animal is at risk of imminent harm due to a violation of this act.

While an earlier provision requires a showing of probable cause before a court of competent jurisdiction could issue a subpoena permitting law enforcement to enter private property and seize an animal, this latter provision impermissibly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

A district court case provides clarity of rights under the Fourth Amendment:

In Badillo v. Amato, Case No. 13-1553, slip op. (D.N.J. Jan. 28, 2014) the Court denied then Monmouth County SPCA Chief Amato’s motion to dismiss, in relevant part, Badillo’s allegation that Amato violated his right to be free from illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.  In this case, Badillo, a priest of the Santeria religion was issued nine municipal court summons for animal animal abuse and neglect after Amato “went around to the back of . . . [Badillo’s’ house, opened the gate and let himself in the fenced backyard without permission or a warrant and began taking pictures . . . “  Case No. 13-1553, slip op., at p. 3 (D.N.J. Jan. 28, 2014).

As the Court explained, finding that the Complaint sufficiently pleaded Fourth Amendment violations by Amato to survive a motion to dismiss, the Fourth Amendment provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and persons or things to be seized.  Id., at p. 8 (quoting U.S. Const. amend. IV.)

The Court reaffirmed that not only is the home “sacrosanct” but that “protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment extend not only to a person’s home, but also to the curtilage surrounding the property.”  Id., at p. 8-9 (citing Estate of Smith v. Maraso, 318 F.3d 497, 518-519 (3d Cir. 2003).

It appears that the foregoing provision of the newly amended animal cruelty statute, permitting entry to private property based on merely reasonable suspicion and in the absence of a court order would violate the Fourth Amendment.

Additional concerns about these amendments, previously discussed, remain included in the final adopted law.

For example, a person may not keep a dog (or other domestic companion animal) in an animal crate or carrier for transport, exhibition, show, contest, training or similar event if the top of the head of the dog touches the ceiling of the animal carrier or crate when the dog is in a normal standing position.  There are many acceptable, safe dog carriers that permit dogs to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably, but the top of their head would touch the ceiling of the crate.

The public must be adequately informed about this new requirement―that does nothing to provide for the welfare of dogs transported in dog carriers―so they are not victims of animal cruelty citations issued by over zealous agents and officers of the NJ or County SPCA’s.  As noted in the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 2000 report on Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  at least one County society (Warren) routinely stopped vehicles with horse trailers for proof that a Coggins test certificate was available as required by the NJ Department of Agriculture.  As the report concluded:

Not only is the absence of a certificate not cruelty, but SPCA personnel lack the expertise to know whether the horse described in the certificate, such as a Bay or Chestnut [which are specific horse colors and patterns], is in fact the horse being transported.

It would not be unprecedented if humane officers decided to target people traveling with dogs throughout the state, and started pulling over and issuing summons related to the size the their dog carriers.

 

Dog owners beware!

 

Reports from two animal-related trade organizations provide insight into the current status and goals of animal rights organizations intent on eliminating the use of animals by humans, without regard to how humanely those animals are treated.

Based on these revealing comments from activists it remains vitally important that the public is exposed to the differences between animal rights activists and animal-related industries whose goals are to ensure that animals under the care of humans are treated humanely.

Members of the National Association for Biomedical Research and the Animal Agricultural Alliance attended the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference held on August 3-6 in Alexandria Virginia.

As advertised on the website

The Animal Rights National Conferences have been organized since 1981 by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) with some breaks between 1987 and 2000, then every year since 2000. They are typically co-sponsored by more than a dozen national organizations.

Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) is a national non-profit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism. We believe in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.

Speakers at the conference talked about the “Power of confrontation in advancing animal rights,” and alleged abuses of animals used for all human purposes including: animals in Entertainment (circuses, rodeos, zoos, aquariums), animals in science (education, product testing, drug research),animals in Fashion, Companion animals, food Animals, and animals in the wild.

Kay Johnson Smith, Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO described this year’s conference:

The speakers at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference made their goals clear – ending all forms of animal agriculture, regardless of how well animals are cared for . . . Their persistent focus on pressure campaigns targeting restaurant, retail and foodservice brands is of great concern to the Alliance and our members. We encourage anyone with a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, to read this year’s report and hear how determined these groups are to eliminate food choices and make our society vegan.

The alliance reported that speaker encouraged attendees to protest and conduct rescues from farms without permission, and that “[b]reaking the law can often be a good thing to do.”

The Alliance also reported that one speaker, David Coman-Hidy with the Humane League encouraged attendees to damage the reputation of food companies.

Consistent with previous years, another key message from conference speakers was for attendees to focus efforts on eliminating farms of all types and sizes, not only the large-scale, modern operations (declared to be “factory farms”) that have historically been targeted.

National Association for Biomedical Research reported about the following speakers and their comments at the conference, intent on eliminating the use of animals in research:

  • Justin Goodman, lobbyist for the White Coat Waste project (WCW), an animal rights group that promotes itself as a fiscally conservative consumer watchdog group, spoke about WCW’s “defund” campaign to “take money away so [research institutions] can’t buy the animals to do the testing.” He continued to focus on making sure universities and other institutions that conduct animal research “don’t get their money.” 

  • Michael Budkie explained [Stop Animal Exploitation Now] SAEN seeks to end animal research by “hanging them with their own paperwork.” We understand this to mean the group attacks the reputations of research institutions and individual scientists by deliberately misusing or mischaracterizing written statements provided by the institutions to government agencies like the NIH and the USDA.

  • Speaking again on behalf of SAEN, Michael Budkie explained his approach to stopping animal research by targeting researchers: “We like to paint them as idiots. They are criminals. SAEN’s job is to let people know animal research is meritless. We will ruin their reputation and credibility. We are coming after them…It becomes news and we’re changing public opinion of what labs do.”

  • A celebrated figure in the animal rights world, Richard Couto conducts undercover investigations of factory farms and food enterprises that use animals. He gains access by working as an employee while filming and documenting abuse for later use in criminal prosecutions of his erstwhile employers. Joined by other so-called “undercover investigators,” they encouraged attendees to join their ranks by stating, “anybody in this room has what it takes to be an undercover investigator.”

Clearly, the goals of animal rights organizations, on display at this conference, should concern those who are involved in animal-related industries where animals are owned and cared for by humans.

As USDA had previously suggested, it just posted a new version of the searchable database that had been dismantled this past February.  Access to the new version is available here.

Many animal rights organizations and animal-trade organizations had expressed outrage or concern when USDA initially dismantled its database.  The current version may not effectuate changes to those positions, since much of the information about individual licensees (compared to licensed businesses) appears to be redacted.

Also, it seems as if license numbers are not available for individuals, but it could be I need to more carefully review the instructions for searching the new database to find that information.

It is a given, that those clamoring for this data will be hard at work deciphering what is and what is not available.

For those pet stores and dealers in towns, cities and states that are required to provide inspection reports to sell puppies, it seems as if the only way to provide such documents from breeders licensed as individuals is to obtain the reports directly from those breeders.

Pet therapy programs have been expanding throughout the country, based largely on the increasing recognition that humans benefit from the human-animal bond.  The human-animal bond is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as:

a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.

While the IRS, in (PLR 201719018), has recently ruled “that a charity’s planned pet therapy program, which would bring trained therapy dogs to visit hospital patients and elderly nursing home residents, furthers charitable purposes under Section 501(c)(3),” that ruling does not consider or even mention public health concerns related to such programs.

“In support of its ruling, the IRS cited revenue rulings concluding that providing services to hospital patients and other individuals suffering distress in an effort to east that distress and provide them comfort furthers charitable purposes . . . [and] that activities designed to meet the special needs of the elderly may further charitable purposes.”  See Pet therapy program is a Section 501(c)(3) charitable activity, IRS rules (citations omitted).

However, no matter how well intended and “charitable” these programs are, there are serious potential public health risks from exposure of elderly, sick, immunocompromised patients to zoonotic diseases that pets can carry and transmit.  See, e.g., “Diseases you can share with your pets” previously discussed.

Those in the veterinary community understand these risks, as noted by Dr. Lucas Pantaleon, stating, the “[r]isk of zoonoses also arises with therapy dogs in human hospitals. The dogs go through screening but could bring zoonoses from the hospital back into the community.”  See “Speaker: Animal hospitals must practice infection control” reported by Katie Burns, June 1, 2017.

Researchers at Tufts University recently published the results of a “survey of United States hospitals, eldercare facilities and therapy animal organizations revealed their health and safety policies for therapy animal visits varied widely, with many not following recommended guidelines for animal visitation.”  See, Could Therapy Animal Visitation Pose Health Risks at Patient Facilities?”, June 19, 2017.

The survey included “responses from 45 eldercare facilities, 45 hospitals, and 27 therapy animal organizations across the country on their existing policies related to animal health and behavioral prerequisites for therapy animals and Animal-assisted intervention (‘AAI’) programs.”

Alarmingly, researchers found that many programs had deficient preventive guidelines to at least minimize the potential exposure of zoonotic pathogens from pets to people, finding:

AAI programs have a potential risk of transmission of zoonotic disease—diseases spread between animals and people. This risk is especially high when health, grooming and handwashing protocols are not carefully used. Another potential risk could come from therapy animals eating raw meat-based diets or treats, which are at high risk of being contaminated with bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. These pathogens may pose risks to both humans and animals, and especially immunocompromised patients.

Zoonotic disease transmission has also been reported in people contracting salmonella from backyard poultry, where almost one third of the 790 victims confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “are children younger than 5 years old.”  See “Salmonella victims from backyard flocks more than double,” Food Safety News, July 14, 2017.

The human-animal bond benefits both people and animals, especially the elderly and children, and should be encouraged.  However, proper protocols and controls should be in place to keep everyone healthy.

 

Horses in New Jersey are highly regarded.  When designating the horse as New Jersey’s state animal in 1977 Governor Bryne said: “The founding fathers of our state thought so highly of the horse that they included it in our state seal.”

In New Jersey, as specified in the Humane Standards, equine rescue operations must provide care “consistent with the “AAEP Care Guidelines for Equine Rescue and Retirement Facilities” or “Equine Rescue and Facility Guidelines, UC Davis.”  N.J.A.C. §2:8-3.6.

Both resources provide comprehensive

guidelines to help ensure that horses maintained within equine sanctuaries and rescue farms receive adequate and proper care.  The guidelines . . . address all issues related to sanctuary management and operations.  They provide information on proper facility design construction and maintenance, suggestions for management and financial organization and instructions on the proper husbandry practices and health care necessary to ensure the successful operations of all types of sanctuary and rescue facilities.

The first section of the UC Davis Guidelines is titled “Operation Business and Financial Plan” emphasizing the importance proper planning and financial support, noting:

The failure rate among animal sanctuaries of all types within the United States is known to be very high, with an average lifespan estimated to be around 3 years and a failure rate in excess of 70% for those facilities that do not own the land being utilized for their operation.  Most of these failures can be attributed to one of two causes; the financial collapse of the entity due to poor business planning and/or practices, or the lack of a defined plan of succession for key management personnel.

AAEP’s Guidelines include the following chapters:

Chapter I: Basic Health Management

Chapter II: Nutrition

Chapter III: Basic Hoof Care

Chapter IV: Caring for the Geriatric Horse

Chapter V: Shelter, Stalls & Horse Facilities

Chapter VI: Pastures, Paddocks & Fencing

Chapter VII: Euthanasia

Chapter VIII: The Bottom Line: Welfare of the Horse.

The importance of caring for new horses entering a rescue facility should include a complete physical examination, a method of identification, the establishment of a medical record, proper nutritional assessments and preventive medical care.  Special attention to the nutritional needs of previously starving horses is critical, and recommendations include oversight by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists to ensure that the appropriate type, amount and frequency of feeding is provided.

If horses are provided too much feed too quickly after starvation, death can ensue.  According to UC Davis “[t]he ‘refeeding syndrome’ has been reported in horses with abrupt refeeding of concentrated calories causing death in 3 days.”

Despite these requirements, there is no indication that there is sufficient oversight in New Jersey over equine rescue facilities.

The State permits but does not require registration of animal rescue organizations and facilities.

4:19-15.33  Registry of animal rescue organizations, facilities
a. The Department of Health shall establish a registry of animal rescue organizations and their facilities in the State.  Any animal rescue organization may voluntarily participate in the registry.

b.The department, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), may adopt any rules and regulations determined necessary to implement the voluntary registry and coordinate its use with the provisions of P.L.2011, c.142 (C.4:19-15.30 et al.) and section 16 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.16).

Of the 74 registered rescues as of March 16, 2017, none appear to be equine rescue facilities.

Historically, when large numbers of horses in the state have been the subject of animal cruelty investigations, their care has been improperly supervised.

Recent events reveal that nothing has changed.

It is time that the State, with its depth of talented, experienced equine practitioners, animal scientists and veterinary nutritionists at Rutgers University and Centenary College, and the Certified Livestock Inspectors at the NJDA-Division of Animal Health, take a hard look at the current state of affairs for horses in need of care in the Garden State.