(TRENTON) – To better protect the pets of New Jersey residents, Assembly Members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji and Dan Benson have sponsored legislation requiring kennels and veterinary facilities to provide for the supervision of dogs, training of employees and maintenance of certain records. The bill was advanced by the full Assembly during the chamber’s Monday voting session 77-0.
“There is an element of trust that goes into leaving a pet, which many of us consider to be a part of the family, with strangers,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “While many kennels and veterinary clinics do try their best, and successfully care for the animals in their facilities, there is no harm in taking certain precautions to ensure that our pets can return home to us safely.”
“Caring for our furry friends is an incredibly important job that should involve abiding best practices and certain minimal standards,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “New Jerseyans expect their pets to be returned to them just as happy, healthy and loving as they were before being dropped off, and we have an obligation to ensure that easily preventable tragedies do not occur.”
“As with any profession, animal caretaking requires practice and preparation in order to get the best results,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Animals do not have a voice and cannot tell us about their experiences, so we have a duty to better ensure that they receive the best care possible and are in a safe environment while away from their owners.”
Under the bill (A-2317), kennels and veterinary facilities in New Jersey would be required to do the following:
• provide for the direct supervision of any indoor or outdoor common play area whenever two or more dogs are present in that area at the same time;
• keep a record of each time a dog is released from or returned to its cage or enclosure, which must be maintained for at least one year and made available upon request to the dog’s owner and relevant governmental authorities;
• develop and implement a training program for all employees of the kennel or veterinary facility who handle or provide care for dogs or who supervise staff handling or providing such care, which would include a review of the provisions of this bill, other laws, rules and regulations applicable to kennels or veterinary facilities; and
• post a sign in a conspicuous location at or near the entrance of the kennel or veterinary facility indicating that the establishment is required to comply with the requirements of the bill.
The bill will be designated as “Daisy’s Law,” in the memory of Daisy, a Shih Tzu who was attacked and killed by a larger dog in the common play area of a veterinary facility in New Jersey. During the time of the attack, the dogs were unsupervised, but if adequate supervision, record-keeping and training of the staff were practiced at the time, this may have been able to have been prevented.
Facilities would have 90 days from the bill’s signing into law to implement these policies, and if they fail to do so, they would be subject to a fine of up to $100, and each day during which the violation continues would be considered a separate offense.
A veterinarian who fails to submit the proper certification or to comply with the provisions of the bill would be subject to a public reprimand by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and any other penalties the board may deem appropriate.
The bill originally advanced out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 4.