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Quijano, Cryan & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Residents Evacuate Pets During Emergencies Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – A revised version of legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Joseph Cryan and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to allow passengers to board public transportation with their pets during a state of emergency or evacuation was approved Monday by the Assembly.

The bill was amended to concur with the governor’s conditional veto recommendations.

“We first saw the realities of this situation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina when many residents refused to evacuate because they couldn’t bring their pets with them. During Sandy, this reality hit home,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This jeopardizes not only the lives of residents and the emergency personnel struggling to evacuate them, but also these defenseless pets. This measure will help us avoid this situation as much as humanly possible.”

The revised bill (A-3445) would permit a pet owner to board public transportation so long as the animal is under the owner’s control by use of a leash or tether, or is properly confined in an appropriate container or by other suitable mean, provided that such boarding is authorized by and consistent with the provisions of the state of emergency operation plans pertaining to the needs of animals and individuals with an animal under their care.

“During Superstorm Sandy we heard many heartbreaking stories of families getting separated from their pets, some who were still trying to reunite with them months later and some who, sadly, were never able to reunite with them,” said Cryan (D-Union). “This is the right thing to do from a practical standpoint.”

“For months after Sandy, we saw countless Facebook posts from families trying to find their pets or from people or rescue groups who had found pets and were trying to reunite them with their owners,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We certainly don’t want to see pet owners endangering their own life because they refuse to evacuate without their pet and this bill will help avoid that.”

Under the revised bill, a “domestic companion animal” refers to any animal commonly referred to as a pet that was bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired for the primary purpose of providing companionship to the owner, rather than for business or agricultural purposes.

The bill was approved 73-0 by the Assembly and now heads back to the Senate for further consideration.