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.

This week is the most important to the turkey producers of America, when many will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends dining on turkey and all the accoutrements routinely accompanying the holiday meal.

If the recent avian influenza outbreak took a toll on American’s pocketbooks, we would expect the price of turkeys to have escalated.  However, as recently reported by James B. Stewart in the NY Times on November 20, 2015, despite the recent outbreak of avian influenza affecting “affecting 15 states, attacking chickens, ducks, and turkeys” resulting in the death of 48 million birds, including 7.5 million turkeys, turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner are readily available and even less expensive than last year.

This result is thanks, in large part, to the response from state departments of agriculture with the assistance of the USDA.  The rapid identification and depopulation of infected flocks enabled the repopulation of farms once cleaning and disinfection protocols were implemented and the premises approved for such use.

In the fall USDA published its Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan in anticipation of the re-introduction of the virus during the influenza season of 2015-2016, finding:

Since it was first identified in the United States in December 2014 in the Pacific Northwest, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in commercial and backyard poultry flocks, wild birds, or captive wild birds in 21 States. With the last case of the spring outbreak identified in June, 2015, a total of 211 commercial and 21 backyard poultry premises had been affected. This resulted in the depopulation of 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens, with devastating effects on these businesses, and a cost to Federal taxpayers of over $950 million.

USDA’s plans for the upcoming season include:

  • Promoting improved on-farm biosecurity practices in order to prevent future HPAI cases to the greatest extent possible;

  • Improving HPAI surveillance in wild birds as a means to provide “early warning” risk information to States and industry;

  • Expanding Federal, State and industry response capabilities, including availability of personnel, equipment, and depopulation, disposal and recovery options;

  • Improving our capabilities to rapidly detect HPAI in domestic poultry and to depopulate affected flocks within 24 hours to reduce the environmental load of HPAI viruses and their subsequent spread;

  • Streamlining the processes for payment of indemnity and the cost of eliminating viruses so that producers receive a fair amount quickly, to assist them in returning to production;

  • Enhancing our ability to communicate in a timely and effective way with producers, consumers, legislators, media, and others regarding outbreaks and other information; and

  • Making preparations to identify and deploy effective AI vaccines should they be a cost beneficial addition to the eradication efforts in a future HPAI outbreak.

Many states and the federal government have plans to respond to foreign animal diseases and highly contagious diseases, including HPAI.

In New Jersey, the plan was initially developed during my tenure as the Director, Division of Animal Health, Department of Agriculture (the State Veterinarian). In addition to emergency plans that became part of the State’s Office of Emergency Management, a regulation specifically dedicated to Avian Influenza was proposed and adopted, N.J.A.C. 2:9.

During the rule-making process, the importance of the virus was described:

Why is AI considered a serious disease?

In some instances, strains of HPAI viruses can be infectious to people. Since mid–December 2003, a growing number of Asian countries have reported outbreaks of HPAI in chickens and ducks. The rapid spread of HPAI is historically unprecedented and of growing concern for human health as well as for animal health. Of great concern to the World Health Organization is the possibility that the current HPAI strains could acquire human influenza genes giving rise to human–to–human transmission and possibly another influenza pandemic in people. In addition, an outbreak of HPAI in the United States could potentially cost the U.S. poultry industry millions of dollars in losses. The 1983–84 HPAI outbreak in the Northeast United States cost nearly $65 million, and led to the destruction of 17 million birds.

In New Jersey, poultry production includes commercial chicken, turkey, guinea fowl and other flocks; backyard flocks; water fowl and game birds; and live bird markets (where customers select birds that are then slaughtered on site).

Plans to respond to disease outbreaks are critical for each of these sectors of the industry.

Importantly, for the first time, USDA has actively pursued and prepared for the use of vaccines to minimize the impact of an avian influenza outbreak in 2015-2016.  Such use can have significant impacts on international exports.

For now, enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and celebration with family and friends.

A recent review by Jeffrey W. Pompeo of New Jersey’s pet trust law was published in the New Jersey Law Journal, describing some of the deficiencies of the existing law.  Amendments to that law were introduced by Assemblyman Burzichelli amending the New Jersey Pet Trust Statute, A-3860.

The pet trust statute is being amended to clarify and add additional provisions.

  1. The amendments remove the 21 year limit for the term of the trust.  As Mr. Pompeo pointed out, many domestic and legally-owned exotic animals live longer than 21 years, so this limitation should be removed to allow a trust to provide for the entire life of the named animal.
  2. The amendments expressly permit intervivos trusts.  Currently, the law does not specifically permit such trusts, and at least one court found that New York’s pet trust law (similar to the existing law in New Jersey) did not include provisions for intervivos trusts.  The amendments limit an intervivos trust to one drafted for the animal’s owner.  A third party would not be able to draft a intervivos trust for someone else’s animal.
  3. The term “domesticated” is replaced by the term “domestic,” the term “exotic animal” is added and the terms “domestic animal,” “domestic companion animal,” “domestic livestock,” and “exotic animal” are defined consistent with existing New Jersey law.  These amendments clarify the type of animals a trust can be established for.  For example, an owner would not be able to draft a valid trust for a wild, exotic, or dangerous animal, even if the owner thought that animal was “domesticated.”  In some cases, the State prohibits ownership of certain exotic and dangerous animals.  In other cases, ownership is allowed by permit only, with specific housing and safety requirements.   These amendments help inform attorneys and animal owners about such requirements so that appropriate care can be provided by future caretakers.
  4. The amendments also provide for the offspring of a trust beneficiary who is pregnant (in gestation) when the trust becomes effective. “Offspring” from other reproductive methods, such as by cloning, should not be included as beneficiaries.

The bill was originally introduced and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on 10/23/2014.  Additional amendments were added, the bill was approved and was reported out of the Assembly Comm. with amendments, 2nd Reading on 3/23/2015.

For animal health officials across the country, one of the most dreaded events, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has arrived full force, spreading like wild fire throughout the country, infecting commercial flocks, backyard flocks and wild birds.

The toll on animals and farmers continues to amass.

Recent reports indicate that the virus can be transmitted through the air between barns and animal facilities.

In a study commissioned by the USDA, as reported by the University of Minnesota

Evidence of the H5N2 avian influenza virus has been found in air samples collected in and near infected Minnesota poultry barns, a researcher said today, supporting the suspicion that the virus may go airborne for short distances, while Iowa reported seven new H5 outbreaks involving 4 million chickens and an unknown number of turkeys.

U of Minnesota scientists, collecting data from affected farms for the study, reported:

Our results indicated that influenza genetic material can be detected in air samples collected inside and immediately outside of infected poultry facilities. We still don’t know whether virus was viable or not, and those analyses are in progress . . . So far we have shown that HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] can be aerosolized from infected facilities . . . However, the implications of these findings in terms of understanding the transmission of HPAI between flocks needs further investigation.

There should be no surprise about the ability of this virus to travel by air or to be carried from farm to farm on contaminated shoes, vehicles, or other equipment.

During the HPAI outbreak in 1983, chickens housed in barns closest to a road in south Jersey frequented by feed trucks from Pennsylvania, the epicenter of that outbreak, became infected with the virus.  The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, based on a request from concerned farmers, introduced a regulation which permitted the Department to route potentially contaminated trucks around farms to protect the animals from airborne spread through the barns ventilation system.

During the 2002 low pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in Virginia, the movement of virus spread to farms either directly or on contaminated equipment. Positive samples of the virus were isolated from interior brake pedals of delivery trucks taken while studying the potential transmission of the virus in New Jersey’s live bird markets.

Because of the ease of spread of the virus, biosecurity protocols must be comprehensive and rigorously enforced.  But even that may not be enough to stem the tide.

Fortunately, the virus generally dies out with increasing temperatures.

USDA and producers may have enough time between the end of this outbreak and the next flu season to develop and administer vaccines and avoid another animal health disaster.

 

 

 

 

 

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that was first identified in the US in December 2014, has spread from wild birds and backyard flocks to chicken and turkey commercial flocks in Arkansas, California, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as reported by USDA.  Part of the response to these outbreaks includes the humane euthanasia of birds in the infected flocks.  So far, more than 7.3 million birds have been euthanized.

USDA provides comprehensive information about the outbreak on its website, including the history of similar outbreaks in the United States.

USDA has experience responding to highly pathogenic avian influenza in U.S. poultry. Before these current outbreaks, there were only three high path AI outbreaks in commercial poultry in U.S. history – in 1924, 1983 and 2004. No significant human illness resulted from these outbreaks.

The CDC explains the potential for human infection from this virus:

No human infections with these viruses have been detected at this time, however similar viruses have infected people in other countries and caused serious illness and death in some cases. While the public health risk posed by these domestic HPAI outbreaks is considered low at this time, it is possible that human infections with these viruses may occur.

People working with poultry flocks and responding to these outbreaks are at the highest risk of infection, since

[m]ost human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred after close and prolonged contact with infected birds or the excretions/secretions of infected birds (e.g., droppings, oral fluids). CDC has posted guidance for clinicians and public health professionals, and is working with state health departments and animal health colleagues to minimize public health risk.

As reported by Reuters, State health officials in Minnesota, where 46 flocks have tested positive for the virus, have been

expediting prescriptions for the antiviral drug Tamiflu for farm workers and others who have been in direct contact with infected flocks . . .  follow[ing] recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Several states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota have declared a state of emergency.

State and federal animal health officials have worked closely with poultry farmers for decades developing plans to respond to outbreaks involving highly contagious diseases including highly pathogenic avian influenza. A coordinated response to this outbreak, described by USDA, requires intense cooperation to implement the following steps:

Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area;

Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s);

Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area;

Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and

Test – confirming that the poultry farm is AI virus-free.

The fact that the virus has continued to spread, despite these efforts, is proof that biosecurity plans must be narrowly tailored for the sectors they are intended to protect, and should be rigorously implemented.

But even the best biosecurity plans cannot prevent all outbreaks, especially when infectious diseases are spread by wild animals.

My thoughts are with the farmers and our animal health first responders battling to protect flocks and squelch the spread of this virus.

As previously discussed, the New Jersey Pet Trust statute should be amended to recognize the validity of an inter vivos trust, and to allow the trust to provide for the offspring of gestating animals under certain conditions.

Inter Vivos Trust

The statute should permit a settlor to provide for their pets during their lifetime upon the settlor’s permanent or temporary incapacitation.  Several states have included provisions for such inter vivos trusts, and other states have commented that such provisions should be added if their statutes are amended.  Failure to recognize the validity of such trusts could render them invalid.  The District Court in Connecticut found that a inter vivos trust established in New York, was invalid because New York’s pet trust “does not provide for the creation of an inter vivos trust for the care of animals.”

However the settlor of an inter vivos or testamentary trust should be limited to the animals’ owner.  With increasing interests and disputes over the care of pets, the possibility that someone other than the owner of an animal will write a pet trust is more and more likely to occur.  In Connecticut, a plaintiff, who had established a trust naming as beneficiaries 2 dogs she did not own, filed a lawsuit (Mittasch v. Reviczky) claiming certain laws permitting the seizure of the dogs were unconsitutiional.  The Court dismissed the lawsuit, finding “no evidence — or even an allegation — suggesting that the Plaintiff has ever sought to exercise dominion or control over the dogs,” and that the plaintiff therefore had no standing to file the lawsuit.

Competing interests of owners will likely become more prevalent as more pets are included in custody agreements.  Dueling owners could establish conflicting trusts for the shared pet, creating legal obstacles for the trustees or caretakers attempting to honor the owners’ intent.  The recognition that shared ownership may result in contradictory trust instruments will help drafters avoid such problems and help ensure that the intent of each owner is honored.

The issue of conflicting legal rights over an animal was evident in an unrelated bill introduced in Connecticut  that would have allowed “judges to appoint a volunteer to advocate for the best interests of an animal in a civil or criminal proceeding related to animal cruelty or fighting that affects the welfare or custody of the animal.”  Concerned about the unintended consequences of this bill, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association testified that

“providing for an independent ‘animal advocate’ with legal standing apart from the animal’s owner. . . would alter the relationship between animals and their owners.  The result will be that owners may no longer be able to determine what is best for their animals. In turn, this will adversely affect the ability of animal owners to choose appropriate animal care services.”

Offspring

The N.J. Pet Trust statute should also be amended to expressly permit the extension of the trust to provide for the direct offspring of animals in gestation at the time the trust is activated, but prohibit the extension of the trust to clones, or other offspring resulting from reproductive manipulations.

Six other states (CO, KS, AL, PA, VA, SC, and ME) provide for the extension of the trust to the designated animal’s offspring, either expressly or in comments included in the annotated versions of the statute.  By limiting a “valid” Pet Trust to the lifetime of the designated animals, an individual may be unable to provide for the offspring of their animals in the State.

As previously described, New Jersey’s Pet Trust statute should be amended to better define those animals who can be cared for by the provisions created in the trust.  Specifically, the term “domestic” should replace “domesticated” in the statute, and the terms “domestic” and “pet” should be defined.  The definitions of “animal” “domestic” “domesticated” and “pet” have been litigated in many states, particularly when these terms were not defined in governing laws, or the definitions were considered constitutionally vague.

As a general rule, statutes should be drafted to minimize any ambiguity that may exist and provide clear direction to the public about what the statute actually means.

New Jersey is the only state that includes the term “domesticated” in its Pet Trust statute.  11 states (California, Washington, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina) use the term “domestic” but not “domesticated.”

The term “domesticated” is problematic because it implies that a trust may be valid if the designated animal of the trust is any animal the owner considers to be “domesticated,” regardless of whether the owner can legally own such an animal in New Jersey.  For example, if someone in New Jersey wanted to own an animal considered by the State to be a “potentially dangerous species,” they would have to obtain a special permit.  The owner’s determination that a “potentially dangerous species,” was “domesticated” or their “pet” would not be sufficient.

In addition, the terms “domestic” and “pet” in the Pet Trust statute should incorporate existing definitions in NJ statutes and/or regulations.  “Domestic” should be defined as “domestic livestock ” and “domestic companion animal” and “pet” should be defined as “domestic animal” or legally owned “exotic animal.”  Incorporating the existing definitions of these terms would provide clear guidance to the public about what these terms mean.

As importantly, referring to these defined terms will also shed light on the same regulations that specify which exotic animals can be legally owned in NJ and which require special permits.  For example, annual permits are required for commonly owned species including, e.g., ferrets, hedgehogs, chinchilla, parrots, macaws, pythons, boas, and geckos.  Permittees must demonstrate that the animals will be treated as required by regulation to obtain the permit each year.  These permits are valid only for the permittee on record.

The general public and some attorneys may not be aware of these restrictions, and therefore may not adequately provide for the continued care of the designated animal by a subsequent owner or caretaker, who would have to apply for, qualify for, and obtain any required permit.

Individuals serving as trustees or guardians and the animal’s owner are best served if such restrictions are understood before drafting the trust instrument so that proper accommodations can be included therein.  Furthermore, if it is illegal to own a particular species in NJ, any trust instrument drafted to provide for such an animal could be invalidated.

 

The “Pet Trust statute” in New Jersey, first enacted in 2001, should be amended to reflect current concerns and those which are reasonably foreseeable so that pet owners’ intentions can be honored for the care of their pets when they are no longer able to provide that care.  These amendments include: deleting the current 21 year limitation for the duration of the trust; clarifying which animals can be designated in the trust; adding the option of drafting an inter vivos trust (enabling care of pets when an owner is temporarily or permanently incapacitated); clarifying that only the owner of the designated animal(s) can establish such a trust; and permitting the trust to cover the offspring of designated animals under certain conditions.

New Jersey is one of the majority of states with a statute validating trusts for the care of certain designated animals (the “Pet Trust statute”).  The Michigan State University College of Law maintains a website that tracks the language of the state statutes.

MANY PETS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS LIVE LONGER THAN 21 YEARS

Like many other states, New Jersey should consider deleting the current 21 year limitation for the duration of the trust in its Pet Trust statute.  Many animals that can be legally owned in New Jersey live longer than 21 years, including: horses, parrots, and macaws.  Additionally, other common pets, like cats, can live for more than 21 years.  Therefore, limiting a pet trust to just 21 years simply does not make sense.  Any pet owner who went to the trouble of creating a trust for their pets would want that trust to provide for the care of their pets for the remainder of the pet’s life.  Several states with similar restrictions have amended their statutes accordingly, based on the same reasoning.

At the same time, with advancing scientific technology, it makes sense to prohibit the trust from extending it to pets who are reproduced by cloning, or other similarly artificial means of reproduction.  If not, a trust could potentially extend forever, which many would find objectionable, compared with permitting the trust to provide for the life of the designated animal, even if for more than 21 years.

The benefit of establishing a trust to provide for your pet has been previously discussed here.  Anyone interested should contact us to discuss the best way to make certain that your pet is cared for when you are no longer able to provide that care yourself.