New Jersey Bill S2848 does far more than described in the official bill statement which states that the bill requires:
1) all cats and dogs brought into the State from other jurisdictions to have an animal history and health certificate certified by a licensed veterinarian providing the information about the cat or dog specified in subsection a. of section 1 of the bill; and
2) animal rescue organizations, shelters, and pounds to accept the return of a cat or dog received from the facility for up to one year 10 after the receipt of the animal from the facility.
The bill authorizes shelters, pounds, and animal rescue organizations to charge a fee of up to $100 for such a return.
The provisions in S2848 that miss the mark include the following:
- A shelter, pound, or animal rescue organization must accept the return of any cat or dog adopted and may charge the person returning the cat or dog a fee of up to $100.00, but a pet store is required to accept the return of a cat or dog for any reason within one year of the date of purchase without the ability to charge the person returning that animal any fee. These provisions clearly unreasonably favor shelters and rescues and importantly do not place the appropriate responsibility on the adopter or pet owner before deciding to bring a pet into a home. While there should be provisions for returns under certain conditions, the bill as proposed does not include reasonable provisions.
- The bill unrealistically and unreasonably extends the pet purchase time frame for returns to pet stores for pets diagnosed with infectious, contagious diseases from 14 days to 1 year after sale, and for pets diagnosed with congenital, hereditary conditions or a sickness [or death] brought on by a congenital or hereditary cause or condition from 180 days to 1 year after sale. These provisions ignore sound science. The provisions limiting returns resulting from infectious diseases to those diagnosed within 14 days after sale were based on typical incubation periods for such diseases. Infectious diseases that occur outside of those time periods are typically unrelated to the care provided by the pet store or their sources, who should not remain liable for situations outside of their control. Similar concerns arise from the extension of pet store liability for congenital or hereditary conditions that are influenced by the pet’s environment, and not the responsibility of the pet store or its sources.
- The bill properly mandates registration of animal rescue organizations and requires reporting of some important information about the number of adopted animals. However, information about the source of animals, whether from other states or countries, should also be required. The myth of the local overpopulation of dogs in New Jersey can only be exposed when the numbers of dogs imported into the State for adoption is required to be reported.
This bill appears to be an attempt to require reporting of certain information about the source of pets provided to the public, but it requires significant amendments to ensure that the law actually provides for the health of pets, consumer protection, and the sustainability of properly run pet stores, animal shelters and animal rescue organizations.