Animal rescue organizations

Originally Posted: 25 Jan 2019 12:11 PM PST, republished with permission.

In most regions of the United States, dog overpopulation as an issue has been solved, and there are more potential owners than there are local pet dogs available. For example, many of the dogs that arrive in Northeastern shelters and rescues come from the southern United States, Puerto Rico, and sometimes even foreign countries.

Ending the dog surplus problem in some parts of the country is a challenge, due to a lack of clear records. To solve a problem, you have to be able to define it. Who is breeding these dogs? Who is surrendering them? Who is adopting them? And more and more, we’re having to ask where they coming from.

One thing we do know, is that fewer dogs are being bred in the United States while the practice of importing dogs from foreign countries for adoption is growing — and fast. So it is little surprise that the partial government shutdown has led to complaints from a group that brings 800+ dogs a year into the U.S., because they can no longer obtain the proper importation permits. This is just one organization of hundreds that are importing dogs in the Southwestern U.S., threatening the health of American dogs and flooding the dog marketplace.

This is why NAIA and our legislative partner, NAIA Trust are working so hard to find legislative solutions to this mushrooming problem.

Even though the government shutdown is currently over, concerns about the importation of dogs from other countries for sale/adoption in the United States remains a serious concern.  Such importation has already resulted in the introduction and spread of diseases infectious to humans and animals.

Shamong Township introduced Ordinance 2018-11, governing dog ownership, on October 2, 2018, which passed by the Township Committee on a first reading of the ordinance.  A public hearing is scheduled on November 7, 2018.

The Ordinance would require annual registration and inspection of “[a]ny property owner, occupant or tenant in Shamong Township having fifteen (15) or more adult dogs, defined as six months old or older, in their possession, licensed in their name, or housed on their property.”

The Ordinance would limit the number of dogs to “no more than a total of twenty-five (25) shall be kept, maintained or harbored at one time, for any length of time, in any residential housing unit or on its grounds or in any business establishment or on its grounds.”

Any dog owners and businesses, including shelters, pet stores, and animal rescue organizations with 15 or more dogs must also comply with the following provisions of the State regulation governing animal facility operations, N.J.A.C. 8:23A:  Section 1.2 (Compliance), Section 1.3 (Facilities-general), Section 1.4 (Facilities-indoor), Section 1.5 (Facilities-outdoor), Section 1.6 (Primary enclosures), 1.7 (Feeding and watering), Section 1.8 (Sanitation), Section 1.9 (Disease control), Section 1.10 (Holding and receiving of animals), Section 1.11 (Euthanasia), Section 1.12 (Transportation), and Section 1.13 (Records and administration).

Pet stores, shelters and kennels are already required to comply with these provisions, but animal rescue organizations and individual dog owners are not.  Doggy-day care operations that may believe they are are not “kennels” would also have to comply if housing more than 15 dogs.  Some of those provisions that could be difficult for individuals to comply with include:

Facilities not receiving water from a municipal water supply system shall test their water annually.  Test results must be sent to the local health department and kept on file.

Interior building surfaces of indoor housing facilities shall be constructed and maintained so that the are impervious to moisture and may be readily cleaned.  ‘“Impervious surface’ means a surface that does not permit the absorption of fluids.  Such surfaces are those that can be thoroughly and repeatedly cleaned and disinfected, which will not retain odors, and from which fluids bead up and run off or can be removed without being absorbed into the surface material.”  This grossly limits the type of indoor housing that can be provided.

A separate isolation room is required to house dogs showing signs of contagious illness.

In facilities constructed or renovated after January 17, 1995, the isolation area shall be a separate room (with ceiling to floor walls and door) from the holding area of the general animal population, not to be used for any purposes other than the segregation of animals with signs of communicable disease.  N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9(g).

In facilities constructed or renovated after January 17, 1995, the isolation area shall have an exhaust fan or system which creates air movement from the isolation area to an area outside the premises of the facility.  N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9(h).

Grid-type flooring permitted under the State regulations would be prohibited by the Ordinance.

Each facility shall have a supervising veterinarian who shall annually sign and date a form provided the the State indicating that the facility has a program of disease control and health care.

Each facility and property owner shall keep and maintain records on the property for 12 months after the date an animal is euthanized or removed from the establishment and must include the following information:

Date each animal was received;

Description of each animal;

License number of each animal;

Breed, age and sex of each animal;

Name and address of person from whom the animal was acquire;

Date and method used to euthanize the animal; and

Name and address of person to whom the animal was sold or otherwise transferred.

The Ordinance would also require “[e]ach registrant . . . [to] keep a record of the veterinarian treatments performed on each dog for at least three years.”

The Ordinance requires medications provided to dogs “to prevent infestation by intestinal parasites.”  This is an unobtainable requirement.  Instead, the Ordinance should require medication to minimize and treat infestation by intestinal parasites.

Anyone in the State or beyond concerned about these provisions should attend and testify at the hearing on November 7, 2018 in Shamong Township.  As we have seen, laws governing animals and related businesses are often introduced in multiple jurisdictions once successfully adopted.