A clearly misguided bill, S3402, was recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate that would prohibit veterinarians from euthanasia of animals suffering fatal disease or injuries for seven days if a cat or dog, having been seized by a law enforcement officer, places that animal in the care of a licensed veterinarian. Specifically the bill states,
whenever a certified animal control officer, municipal humane law enforcement officer, county humane law enforcement officer, or other law enforcement officer seizes a cat or dog which the officer places in the care of a licensed veterinarian, veterinary hospital, or other establishment providing veterinary care to sick or injured animals because the officer believes the cat or dog is sick or injured and outside of the control of an owner, the licensed veterinarian, veterinary hospital, or other establishment providing veterinary care to sick or injured animals that receives the cat or dog shall hold the cat or dog and care for it for at least seven days.
The bill requires notification of the pets owner, if possible, but only permits euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian after seven days if the “animal is beyond recovery as determined by a licensed veterinarian.” Such prohibition would necessarily require veterinarians, who diagnose incurable and painful conditions in such animals before the seven-day hold period, to keep those animals alive and suffering. That cannot be the intended result of this bill, but sadly, that is how it is currently written.
Also, veterinarians would be required to provide care without reimbursement unless “the owner of the cat or dog is identified and the cat or dog is reclaimed by its owner.” If the dog or cat is treated and survives and is sent to an animal shelter or animal rescue organization, the veterinarian would not be required to be reimbursed for such treatment.
To remedy these fatal issues with this bill, amendments should be introduced that (1) permits a licensed veterinarian to perform euthanasia when it is clear that the dog or cat would suffer terribly from a fatal condition if required to be kept alive for seven days; and (2) requires payment for veterinary services rendered from the jurisdiction placing that pet in the care of the veterinarian, if the pet is not reclaimed by its owner.