Senate, No. 2625, a bill introduced into the New Jersey Senate on December 8, 2014 by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, is a good attempt at tracking the movement of dogs and cats into New Jersey through rescue channels, as well as traditional sales.  There may be individuals worried that this Bill requires anyone purchasing a dog or cat out of state to register as an animal importer.  However, it appears as if such purchases would not require registration if the purchaser transports the animal personally.  Of course an interstate veterinary health certificate would still be required for such importation.

The Bill, if enacted, would establish animal importer registration, and animal grooming facility and animal training facility licenses; and also establish requirements for animal importers, animal grooming facilities, and animal training facilities and penalties for certain violations.

Specifically, the Bill would require the registration of any animal importer, defined as “any person who brings a cat or dog into the State from another state or sovereign entity for the purpose of offering the cat or dog for sale, adoption, or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service, or other consideration  . . . including animal rescues, adoption, or humane relocation, or delivery organizations.”

In addition to registering animal importers, the Department of Health would have to draft “rules and regulations for the health, safety, and humane treatment of cats and dogs by animal importers.”

Other States, including Connecticut and Rhode Island, already have similar requirements.  Rhode Island’s comprehensive regulations governing the Importation of Dogs and Cats for the Purpose of Rescue, Shelter, Foster, Adoption, Brokering, or Remote Sale, are a good reference.  See Rule 8.00.

The Bill also requires reporting of “the State or country of origin of each cat or dog brought into the state by the animal importer.”

This may be difficult to ascertain if the animal has been relocated from shelter to shelter, which purportedly is becoming more and more common, as shelters are increasingly pressured to minimize the euthanasia of the animals in their care.  While decreasing euthanasia is everyone’s objective, the repeated relocation of animals can create stress, and their care during transportation, often across state lines, should be regulated.

When possible, the history of movement from the place of origin should be included in each animal’s medical records.  Not only will this help us better understand the depth and breadth of the largely unregulated movement of dogs through rescue channels, but it will also help identify specific health risks that are associated with certain geographic regions.

Thoughts about the new requirements governing animal groomers and trainers coming soon….