S2508, Nosey’s Law, which “prohibits use of elephants and other wild or exotic animals in traveling animal acts” was passed by both houses in the N.J. legislature on January 8, 2017 and is headed to the Governor’s desk.

The bill, if signed, would put many of the state’s zoos and other businesses that include educating the public about amazing exotic species, out of business.  Therefore, hopefully, it will be vetoed by the Governor as one of his last official acts.

The bill was amended before the final vote to include banning “other wild or exotic animals” in addition to “elephants” from use in traveling animal acts.

The definitions of “Mobile or traveling housing facility.” “Performance,” and “Traveling animal act” make this bill extremely problematic and would have devastating and unreasonable results:

  1. As used in this section:

     “Mobile or traveling housing facility” means a vehicle, including a truck, trailer, or railway car, used to transport or house an animal used for performance.

“Performance” means any animal act, carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, presentation, public showing, race, ride, trade show, or similar undertaking in which animals perform tricks, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement, or benefit of a live audience.

“Traveling animal act” means any performance which requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of the performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility.

 

Based on these definitions, any wild or exotic animals transported to one of the state’s zoo’s or exotic animal exhibits would be banned.

This includes the Cape May Zoo, the Camden Aquarium, and Great Adventures, to name a few.

And the type of animals to be banned, based on the definitions promulgated by NJ DEP include:

          ‘Exotic mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian,’ [which] means any nongame species or mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian not indigenous to New Jersey.

‘Wild bird” means any bird other than a native, introduced, or feral game bird as defined in N.J.S.A 23:4-49 and other than a domesticated bird such as a chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, goose, duck, pigeon, or peafowl. ‘Wild bird’ also means the egg of a wild bird.

N.J.A.C. 7.25-4.1, et seq.

DEP requires permits for owners of exotic mammals including ferrets, llama, and exotic sheep or goats (undefined).  While llama, sheep and goats (and ratites) are also considered livestock, they would still be banned from exhibitions, including state and county fairs under the provisions of this bill.

Wild and exotic bird eggs, transported for incubation, even if to preserve endangered species would also be banned.

 

Such unintended consequences of this bill can only be addressed if it is vetoed.

It looks like sister bills in New Jersey that would provide “immunity from civil and criminal liability for rescue of [an] animal from motor vehicle under inhumane conditions” are moving through the lame duck session of the state legislature.

The senate version, S2899, a senate substitution, was passed on Dec. 7, 2017 during a session vote.  The assembly version, A3636 passed last year.  According to Tom Leach, the Executive Director of both the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research and the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research, since “the bills were amended on the floor of the Senate, it will need to pass the full Senate then go back to the Assembly for concurrence with the Senate amendments.  The assembly vote that is needed is a floor vote.  There is no need for further committee activity.  Both houses still have multiple voting sessions scheduled before the end of the legislative session on January 9th.”

Of concern is the fact that the bills do not provide sufficient guidance to the public about what constitutes “inhumane conditions adverse to the health or welfare of the animal.”  The “inhumane conditions adverse conditions to the health or welfare of the animal” enumerated in the bill, include “heat, cold, inadequate ventilation, or other circumstances likely to endanger or cause bodily injury or death the animal.”

If those “inhumane conditions” exists,

any person who, without license or privilege to otherwise enter the motor vehicle, may in good faith enter the vehicle in order to remove, or render emergency care to, the animal if the person reasonably believes that the health or welfare of the animal may be at risk under such circumstances, provided that prior to entering the motor vehicle the person contacted appropriate rescue personnel to report the circumstances and made a reasonable attempt to locate the owner or operator of the motor vehicle or other person responsible for the animal unless exigent circumstances warrant foregoing such actions.

See A3636  (emphasis added).

Since anyone would be able to break into a vehicle and rescue an animal if these bills become law, these vague and ambiguous provisions could result in unneeded “rescues” that could end up injuring animals and unnecessarily destroying property.  As long as a person acts in “good faith,” they will be immune from criminal or civil liability.

Some pets would suffer if not rescued when locked in cars when the ambient temperature is high with the windows closed and no air conditioning on.  Those pets may suffer from heatstroke, but if so, immediate veterinary treatment is imperative, not optional as permitted in the current bills.  If someone in good faith believes an animal must be rescued due to inhumane conditions harmful to their health, then each rescued animals should receive immediate veterinary care.

Since no one in New Jersey other than licensed veterinarians are permitted to diagnose or treat conditions in animals, there should be provisions for mandatory veterinary treatment as soon as animals, suffering from any inhumane conditions, are rescued from vehicles.

As described on Consultant, A Diagnostic Support System for Veterinary Medicine, developed by one of my former mentors, Dr. Maurice E. White at Cornell University, “heatstroke is a multisystemic disorder usually associated with forced confinement of animals in a hot environment such as a locked car.”

The associated clinical signs of heatstroke include:

Abnormal behavior, aggression, changing habits, Abnormal upper airway breathing sounds, Anorexia, Arrhythmia, Ataxia, Blindness, Bloody stools, feces, hematochezia, Cold skin, Coma, Congestion oral mucous membranes, Constant or increased vocalization, Cyanosis, Dehydration, Diarrhea, Dryness of skin or hair, Dryness oral mucosa, Dullness, Dysmetria, Dyspnea, Epistaxis, Excessive salivation, Fever, Generalized weakness, Inability to stand, Increased respiratory rate, Mydriasis, Oral cavity, tongue swelling, Pale, Paraparesis, Petechiae, ecchymoses, purpura, Red or brown urine, Seizures or syncope, Sudden death, Tachycardia, Tetraparesis, Tremor, Vomiting or regurgitation, Warm skin, Weak pulse.

In a study titled “Hemostatic abnormalities in dogs with naturally occurring heatstroke” abnormalities in hemostatic tests run (platelet count, prothrombin and activated partial thromboplastin times (PT and aPTT, respectively), antithrombin activity (ATA), total protein C activity (tPCA), fibrinogen, and D-dimer concentrations) on 30 dogs with naturally occurring heatstroke were identified.  18 of the 30 dogs survived.  The study found:

[h]emostatic derangements are common in dogs with naturally occurring heatstroke. Alterations in PT, aPTT, tPCA, and fibrinogen concentrations appear to be associated with the outcome at 12–24 hours PP, exemplifying the need for serial measurement of multiple laboratory hemostatic tests during hospitalization, even when within reference interval on presentation. The development of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), as defined in this cohort, was not associated with mortality; however, nonsurvivors had significantly more coagulation abnormalities during the first 24 hours PP.

Good Samaritans and law enforcement officials, including animal control and humane officers or agents, assisting pets experiencing inhumane conditions in locked vehicles, should be required to bring that pet immediately to a veterinarian, once rescued.  It should not be optional.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Las Vegas City Council voted to enact “Bill No. 2017-40 – which repeals a formerly adopted ordinance which prohibits pet shops from selling or disposing of dogs, cats or potbellied pigs other than those obtained from an animal care facility or nonprofit animal rescue organization.”

As both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) stated in written testimony, the misrepresentations about the puppies sold at pet stores harms puppies, breeders, pet stores and consumers by removing a highly regulated source of healthy puppies for people desiring a lifelong pet with specific behavioral and physical characteristics they prefer for their families.

As PIJAC explained:

Even as we have worked to raise standards of care, PIJAC has battled misconceptions about the quality of pet store animals and the sources of such animals. The unsubstantiated assertion that pet store animals generally come from substandard breeding facilities is commonly used as a smoke screen to obscure the fact that the overwhelming majority of pet owners who choose to purchase from pet stores bring home a happy, healthy pet and remain highly satisfied with their pet store experience.

The reality is that almost all pet store puppies originate from USDA licensed breeders who are regularly inspected and found to comply with appropriate care standards. By contrast, many of the dogs and cats from other sources, including rogue Internet operators, private sales, shelters and rescues, did not come from licensed breeders.

AKC stated:

An important part of ensuring the success of a pet with a new owner is to ensure that it is an appropriate fit with the owner’s lifestyle. Treasured pets may be obtained from a variety of sources, including breeders, pet stores, rescues, and local shelters.

Under the current law, families in Las Vegas have lost an important source for choosing a quality pet that is the best fit for their lifestyle and circumstances.

There is no credible evidence that puppies purchased from pet stores originate from “puppy mills,” large commercial substandard breeding facilities, or that pet store puppies contribute to shelter populations-misrepresentations that form the bases for pet store sourcing bans.

Las Vegas City Council repealed the pet store sourcing ban. Hopefully, other communities will follow suit.

On a related note, Circuit Judge Hamilton dissented from the majority opinion in a constitutional challenge to a pet store ban in Chicago (Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 872 F. 3d 495 (7th Cir. 2017) “[o]n two points critical to the federal Commerce Clause claim.”

First, the Supreme Court itself has not yet confined the balancing test under Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S. 137 (1970), as narrowly as my colleagues suggest. The majority writes that Pike balancing comes into play ‘only when the law discriminates against interstate commerce in practical application.’ Ante at 502 (emphasis in original), citing National Paint & Coatings Ass’n v. City of Chicago, 45 F.3d 1124, 1131 (7th Cir. 1995) . . . . The majority would apply Pike only when the challenged law gives ‘local firms any competitive advantage over those located elsewhere’ . . . The Supreme Court’s more recent discussions of Pike, since we decided National Paint in 1995, are difficult to reconcile with this approach. For example, the Court has explained that federal courts ‘generally leave the courtroom door open to plaintiffs invoking the rule in Pike, that even nondiscriminatory burdens on commerce may be struck down on a showing that those burdens clearly outweigh the benefits of a state or local practice.’

 

Judge Hamilton also found that “the majority errs by applying a stringent version of Iqbal and Twombly to find that plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged sufficiently burdensome effects on interstate commerce.”

 

Judge Hamilton found that the complaint had sufficiently alleged plausible impacts that the pet store sourcing ban would result in the alleged harms, concluding,

I don’t know whether the plaintiffs in this case could ultimately meet the demands of the Pike balancing test. They should be permitted to try, though, particularly now that the ordinance has taken effect and evidence of actual effects should be available. I would reverse the dismissal for failure to state a claim and remand for further proceedings.

 

 

For the third time, New Jersey state agencies have concluded that the New Jersey Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA), described as “wannabe cops,” by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation report aptly titled “ Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: New Jersey’s SPCAs 17 years later.”

Some of the highlights of the report, available here, include a summary of the report previously completed in 2000:

Nearly two decades ago, the State Commission of investigation conducted an inquiry into the activities and financial practices of the various Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New Jersey.  The investigation’s final report, completed in 2000, exposed a range of waste, abuse and malfeasance so widespread as to render many of these entities incapable of fulfilling their primary statutory obligation: the enforcement of state laws designed to prevent cruelty to animals.

Along with uncovering substantial – in some cases criminal – wrongdoing, the investigation also revealed that New Jersey remained mired in an archaic legislative scheme allowing unsupervised groups of private citizens to enforce animal cruelty laws.  These volunteers are empowered to carry weapons, investigate complaints of criminal and civil misconduct, issue summonses and effect arrests.  The Commission further found that some of these SPCAs became havens for gun-carrying wannabe cops motivated by personal gains, or the private domain of a select few who discarded rules on a whim.

The Commission concluded that the delegation of such broad power to private citizens may have been understandable, indeed, a necessity in the 1800s when the laws creating the New Jersey and county SCPAs were written.  That arrangement, however, is not workable in the highly stratified and professionalized law enforcement system of the 21st Century, and the Commission recommended turning over the enforcement role to government.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: New Jersey’s SPCAs 17 Years Later, SCI, October 2017.

As the State Commission on Investigation recently found:

[t]he NJSPCA  – even though operating as a not-for-profit organization – is also supposed to be the steward of substantial amounts of public monies in the form of fines collected through animal cruelty violations and donations from citizens . . . Unfortunately, the Commission found that the altruistic mission of the organization became secondary to those who controlled the NJSPCA and subverted it for their own selfish ends and self-aggrandizement. The findings of this inquiry make plain that permitting a part-time policing unit staffed by private citizens to serve as the primary enforcers of New Jersey’s animal cruelty laws is illogical, ineffective and makes the entire system vulnerable to abuse.  Moreover, the government apparatus to perform this function is already in place-in the form of municipal and county animal control officers working in coordination with local police.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: New Jersey’s SPCAs 17 Years Later, SCI, October 2017.

The Commission concluded that the NJSPCA is an organization that:

  • Fails to consistently respond to serious allegation of animal cruelty complaints-its core mission-in a timely manner and keeps records that are so sloppy it was often impossible to determine specific action taken on cases.

  • Spends more money on legal bills – racking up more than $775,000 over the past five years – than for any other expense, including funds that directly support animal care.

  • Circumvents the spirit of a 2006 law to establish effective and transparent governance at the NJSPCA by adopting bylaws that exclude the board of trustees – which has three members appointed by the Governor – from having any supervision of its law enforcement activities.

  • Remains a haven for wannabe cops, some of whom believe they may exercise police powers beyond enforcement of the animal cruelty statutes, such as conducting traffic stops.

  • Allows nearly a third of its approximately 20 humane officers to carry firearms despite the fact that those individuals do not hop up-to-date authorization to do so from the New Jersey State Police, which by law, must be renewed every two years. They are also exempt from the requirement to obtain a firearms permit.

  • Lacks the ability to estimate how much revenue it is entitled to receive from animal cruelty fines – a major source of its funding – and has no apparatus to collect these monies.

  • Allows top-ranking members access to certain questionable perks, such as care for personal use, and other beneficial benefits – at the expense of unwitting donors, and tolerates blatant conflicts of interest that profit its key officials.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: New Jersey’s SPCAs 17 Years Later, SCI, October 2017.

Unfortunately, the report did not comment on NJSPCAs presumed failure to notify the New Jersey Department of Agriculture when complaints regarding livestock or poultry are received, as required by law, in order to ensure that infectious, contagious diseases in animals that may appear to have been treated cruelly, are properly handled to protect human and animal health.

For those interested in testifying about this report and potential legislation to make a real change in the State’s enforcement of its animal cruelty law, on Monday, November 13, 2017 at 10:30 am:

The Senate Economic Growth Committee will take testimony on the recent report released by the State Commission of Investigation regarding the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  In addition, the committee will discuss legislative reform to strengthen the enforcement of New Jersey’s animal cruelty laws. Individuals presenting written testimony are asked to provide 10 copies to the committee aide at the public hearing.

Rescue Road Trips, inc. (the Rescue), as previously described, transports dogs from the south to the northeastern states for sale/adoption.  The Rescue states that

No exchange of payment may occur within the boarders [sic] of the State of Connecticut.

Connecticut, in an attempt to protect consumers and pets, requires animal importers to register with the Commissioner of Agriculture, which the Rescue has done. Connecticut also requires:

“[a]ny animal importer who intends to offer for sale, adoption or transfer any dog or cat at a venue or location that is open to the public or at an outdoor location, including, but not limited to, a parking lot or shopping center, shall provide notice to the Department of Agriculture and the municipal zoning enforcement officer of the town where any such sale, adoption or transfer will occur, not later than ten days prior to such event. Such notice shall state the date for such sale, adoption or transfer event, the exact location of such event and the anticipated number of animals for sale, adoption or transfer at such event. Any person who fails to provide notice as required pursuant to this subdivision shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars per animal that is offered for sale, adoption or transfer at such event.” CT. ST. §22-344(e)(2)

The statute defines “animal importer” as a person who brings any dog or cat into this state from any other sovereign entity for the purpose of offering such dog or cat to any person for sale, adoption or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service or any other consideration.” CT. ST. §22-344(e)(3).

Is the Rescue attempted to avoid these requirements by arranging for the sale to occur before entering Connecticut?

The Rescue seems to be relying on a fact sheet written by CT Votes for Animals, dated 7/1/2015, titled CT Importation Law Fact Sheet (the Factsheet).

That Factsheet states:

An adopter who intends to keep a cat or dog as a personal companion is not an animal importer if the adopter owns the cat or dog at the time the animal is brought into Connecticut (e.g., the cat or dog is offered on Petfinder and adopted prior to arriving in Connecticut).

It is not clear whether the Rescue, assuming that notification to the State of Connecticut is not required if the transfer of ownership occurs online, before the Rescue enters the State.

But, if the sale/adoption occurs through Petfinder, before entry into the State, that transfer should be considered a non-face-to-face sale by USDA, in which case the Rescue would have to apply for and be approved as a licensee under the Animal Welfare Act. Currently, they describe themselves as an USDA Class T registrant, not as a licensee.

The Factsheet also appears to have other inaccuracies.

For example, it describes importation laws for dogs or cats pursuant to CT. ST. §22-354(a) as “Prior law.” However, currently, CT. ST. §22-354(a) remains in effect.

In addition to these importation provision, CT. ST. §22-344(f), “Veterinary examination of cat or dog imported into state by animal importer,” also requires:

“Any animal importer, as defined in section 22-344, shall, not later than forty-eight hours after importing any dog or cat into this state and prior to the sale, adoption or transfer of such dog or cat to any person, provide for the examination of such dog or cat by a veterinarian licensed under chapter 384. Thereafter, such animal importer shall provide for the examination of such dog or cat by a veterinarian licensed under chapter 384 every ninety days until such dog or cat is sold, adopted or transferred, provided no such dog or cat shall be sold, adopted or transferred to another person by an animal importer unless (1) such dog or cat was examined by a veterinarian licensed under chapter 384 not more than fifteen days prior to the sale, adoption or transfer of such dog or cat, and (2) such veterinarian provides such animal importer with a written certificate stating that such dog or cat is free of any symptoms of any illness, infectious, contagious or communicable disease. Such certificate shall list the name, address and contact information of such animal importer. Any animal importer who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars for each animal that is the subject of such violation.”

The Factsheet, however, replacing the term “provide” with “arrange” states that “the examination itself may occur after the 48 hour period [or] . . . after the 90 day period,” respectively.

That does not appear to be consistent with the statutory language or the legislative history.

The purpose of this provision, adopted in 2011, as summarized in the legislative history, was to, in relevant part, “(1) require a veterinarian to examine a cat or dog within 48 hours of the animal being imported and within 15 days before the sale, adoption, or transfer of the animal.” (emphasis added).

As further described:

“Veterinarian Services and Records Required

The bill requires an animal importer, within 48 hours of importing a cat or dog into Connecticut and before offering it for sale, adoption, or transfer, and every 90 days until the sale, adoption, or transfer is complete, to have a state-licensed veterinarian examine the animal. Each animal must be examined by a state-licensed veterinarian within 15 days before a sale, adoption, or transfer and the veterinarian must provide the animal importer a written health certificate for the animal. An animal importer who violates these provisions is subject to a find of up to $500 for each unexamined or uncertified animal.”

Since the laws in Connecticut were passed to protect human and animal health, at least in part, it is critical that dog sales and/or adoptions are conducted as these provisions require.

 

 

 

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!

Today, lawmakers in Trenton, New Jersey did not have the opportunity to reject an attempted override to Governor Christie’s condition veto of Senator Lesniak’s so-called “puppy mill bill,” one of more than 200 similar laws nationwide orchestrated by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups opposed to anyone who makes money breeding, raising and selling animals.  The bill, as previously discussed, was chock-full of constitutional violations, that were mostly―but not completely ―cured by the Governor’s veto.

Lesniak, without sufficient votes to override the veto, pulled the bill before the vote.  In a tweet Lesniak published afterward, he said “I held the bill so I can attempt another override at any future Senate meeting until January 10, 2018.” He also posted the names of the Senators who did not support his effort.

Around the same time, ordinances in Morristown and Jersey City to ban USDA licensed breeders from sales to pet stores were considered.  Jersey City voted to reject the ordinance, Morristown did not take action.  Brian Hackett, the Human Society of the United States’s New Jersey Director told the Jersey City Council that all pet stores in New Jersey are purchasing all their puppies from puppy mills since the state limits their sources to USDA licensed breeders.  All USDA licensed breeders, according to Hackett, are puppy mills.  But not according to Lesniak, as previously reported, who, on June 23, 2016 said that sales from USDA licensees to pet stores should be allowed to continue, because these breeders were not the “puppy mills” his original bill had been targeting to eliminate.  (See testimony on June 23, 2016 at the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee starting at 3 hours 3 minutes 24 seconds (3:3:24)).

Perhaps Lesniak should consider a bill that would actually help animals without hurting the people and businesses that treat them humanely.

For example, this state desperately needs an overhaul of the law granting law enforcement authority to volunteer nonprofit groups (New Jersey and County Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  Walt Kane, of “Kane in Your Corner,” has been spearheading an investigation about the NJSPCA, published on New 12 New Jersey.  The latest installment, in which I was interviewed, aired May 24, 2017, “NJSPCA law enforcement practices questioned.”

Walt obtained records of complaints that had either not been investigated or had no written description of any investigation performed or results achieved.

As I said after reviewing those records, it is long past time that the state shift enforcement of its animal cruelty statutes to professional law enforcement agencies.  Those dedicated and expert in animal health and welfare should be able to assist officers at police and sheriff’s departments by providing that expertise as a special investigator in relevant animal cruelty investigations.  If we are serious about animal welfare, it is time to make that change.

Governor Christie issued a conditional veto on May 1, 2017, amending S 3041 significantly and correcting some constitutional deficiencies in the existing law (New Jersey’s Pet Purchase Protection Act) as well as glaring constitutional violations in S 3041 that ended up on the Governor’s desk.

Explaining his support of efforts to protect New Jersey pet purchasers and require “responsible conduct among pet breeders and brokers” the Governor rejected much of the newly proposed amendments finding that “aspects of this bill go too far.”  S3041 Conditional Veto, May 1, 2017.

[T]his bill would require the Division of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) to engage in costly, and potentially unconstitutional, regulation of pet dealers, breeders, and brokers throughout the country. This bill would also have the unintended consequence of restricting consumer access to pets, even from responsible breeders.

This bill would expand the Act’s burdensome sourcing requirements on New Jersey pet shops to all pet dealers; impose onerous record keeping and reporting requirements on pet dealers; require DCA to post on its web-site United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) inspection reports for breeders and brokers, even though the USDA removed these inspection reports from its own website shortly after being sued in part over privacy concerns; and expose pet shops and pet dealers to a severe “three strikes and you’re out” penalty that could permanently close them for something as innocuous as unknowingly obtaining pets from a source that was cited, but not fully adjudicated, for technical violations in a USDA inspection report which they no longer publish on their own website.

Some of the changes in the Conditional Veto include:

  1. The inflammatory, pejorative language in the preamble has been deleted in its entirety.
  2. The definition of “broker” would be consistent with that term as defined in the Animal Welfare Act and related regulations.
  3. For the most part, the law would apply to those conducting business within the State of New Jersey.
  4. Pet shops and pet dealers within New Jersey remain banned from purchasing from USDA exempt breeders but exempt or hobby breeders are no longer included in the definition of pet dealer.
  5. Most of the draconian provisions and fines for pet stores have been eliminated or significantly amended.
  6. Documentation of and about the dogs and cats sold by pet stores is still required, but those documents no longer have to be plastered on cages. They can either be on the cage or “in a display that is visible and accessible to consumers and is immediately adjacent to the cage or enclosure.”

Importantly, the Conditional Veto requires final adjudications that a source has violated the Animal Welfare Act before banned from selling to pet shops or pet dealers in N.J.  Apparently recognizing that the existing and proposed language impermissibly violates the Due Process rights of pet breeders and dealers, the proposed changes provide:

Pet shops and pet dealers cannot purchase from a pet dealer who ‘received three or more separate, final and conclusive orders for violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act . . . or corresponding federal animal welfare regulations . . .during the five-year period prior to the purchase of the animal by the pet shop or pet dealer.”

Unfortunately, the Governor did not correct the requirement for out of state breeders to comply with NJ Department of Health regulations, an impermissible violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Whether and to what extent the Conditional Veto will be adopted remains to be seen.  The bill sponsor has threatened to override the veto.

Those interested in supporting the Conditional Veto and blocking an override can visit NAIA’s website  for more information.

 

Sometimes it is important to set the record straight.

That is the case here.  New Jersey stood at the forefront in the country of establishing humane standards of care for livestock and poultry for the state.   In 2003, when the rule was originally proposed, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture explained that they were “adopt[ing] ‘standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing, and sale of domestic livestock,’ as well as ‘rules and regulations governing the enforcement of those standards.'”  35 N.J.R. 1873(a)(2003, as mandated by N.J.S.A. 4:22-16.1.

While the rules require minimum standards of care,  the Department acknowledged that “many responsible New Jersey farmers meet or exceed” those standards.  The standards were developed in consultation with the New Jersey Agricultural Station, and involved hundreds of hours of meeting with subcommittees established for each livestock group.  Committee members included state and federal animal health officials, academicians, subject matter experts, farmers, transporters and members of the N.J.S.P.C.A.  As the Director of the Division of Animal Health at that time, I chaired those meetings.

The N.J.D.A., the N.J. Ag. Station and N.J. Farm Bureau had approached legislators requesting the amendment to the animal cruelty statute (N.J.S.A. 4:22-16.1) that mandated the creation of these regulations out of concerns that there was no uniform guidance to either professional or volunteer law enforcement officials who were enforcing animal cruelty statutes with uneven hands across the state.  These rules were necessary to provide:

[r]egulatory authorities charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty rules  . . . measurable standards to help them do their jobs effectively and assist in the training of new inspectors.  These defined standards provide authorities with a baseline to use to determine when animal cruelty occurs.  Application of these standards uniformly, across the State will standardize the criteria under which animal cruelty cases are judged.  35 N.J.R. 1873(a)(2003.

In addition to specific standards for the raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of: (a) cattle; (b) horses; (c) poultry; (d) rabbits; (e) small ruminants; and (f) swine, they also established “procedural rules for investigation and enforcement actions and [the] use of proper biosecurity protocols.”  Id.   Biosecurity protocols are critical when investigating complaints about animal care “to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious agents on or off farm premises.”  Id. 

Furthermore, because the cause of livestock illness many not be immediately apparent, it is important that any individual who performs investigations be familiar with clinical signs of disease and report any cases of livestock disease or death to the  . . . NJDA as required under N.J.A.C. 2:2-1.5.  Id.

As previously described here, New Jersey was one of the first states to establish comprehensive humane standards of care for livestock and poultry.  At the time, Colorado was one of the few states that had standards for livestock, although not at comprehensive as those drafted by New Jersey.

Well after the rule was adopted and survived legal challenges, the regulations and process used to draft the standards was shared with other states, including, for example, Ohio.  Ohio’s standards were recently heralded as a model to follow for the formation of livestock codes in other states. 

While I agree that the process used and resulting standards adopted in Ohio are a great model, it is important to remember that both started right here in the “Garden State!”

 

A “Good Samaritan” bill, S 3134, introduced in the New Jersey Senate on May 8, 2017 would “provide immunity from civil liability for veterinarians or emergency responders who assist animals at accident scene or emergency.”  Sister bill A4770 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on May 11, 2017.

Currently veterinarians have immunity for civil damages for rendering emergency care:

Any individual licensed to practice veterinary medicine who, in good faith, renders emergency care to any animal which has, immediately prior to the rendering of such care, been brought to such individual’s attention at or from the scene of an accident or emergency situation or has been discovered by such individual at the scene of an accident or emergency situation shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions by such person in rendering the emergency care.  NJSA 45:16-9.11

So what do these newly introduced bills do differently?

First, it seems as if the bill sponsors and oversight from the Office of Legislative Services may have been unaware of the existing provisions for veterinarians, since the introduced bills purport to amend  NJ Rev Stat § 2A:62A-1 (2013) a statute titled “Civil immunity for emergency care” and there is no citation to the above-mentioned statute, part of the NJ Veterinary Medical Practice Act.

The provisions for veterinarians in these newly proposed bills appears redundant to immunity already provided.

However, the bills would expand the immunity to all “emergency responders” defined as “a law enforcement officer, paid or volunteer firefighter, paid or volunteer member of a duly incorporated first aid, emergency, ambulance, or rescue squad association, or any other individual who, in the course of employment, provides medical care or other assistance at the scene of an accident or emergency.”

The actual provisions of the bills is similar to the immunity provided for in the State Veterinary Practice Act for veterinarians, namely:

An emergency responder or veterinarian who in good faith renders emergency care to an animal at the scene of an accident or emergency shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions in rendering the emergency care. Nothing in this section shall exonerate an emergency responder or veterinarian from gross negligence.

It would appear that these bills would provide immunity to emergency responders and veterinarians responding to pets confined in a vehicle during inclement conditions that could be considered emergencies, e.g., excessively high temperatures.

Therefore, while these bills are, in part redundant, they extend immunity to emergency responders and strike an appropriate balance that would benefit pets and their owners.