Update Aug. 27, 2011: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has conditionally vetoed S.B. 2923/A. 4096 and called on the state legislature to keep in effect the current law that mandates shelters to hold animals not voluntarily surrendered for at least 7 days before they can be adopted, transferred or euthanized. Animals voluntarily surrendered must still be offered for adoption for 7 days prior to euthanasia unless it is in the "best interest" of the animal to be transferred to a rescue or foster home for adoption or a licensed veterinarian has determined the animal is terminally ill.
The bill as passed by the legislature would have allowed animals to be euthanized in less than 7 days if "the age, health, or behavior of the animal warrants euthanizing it before seven days have elapsed". The shelter would have made the determination as to whether the "age, health, or behavior of the animal warrant[ed]" euthanasia. Very broad discretion.
The governor’s veto came after a public outcry about this proposal which would not have allowed owners time to find their animals and would have meant the deaths of many more animals in shelters.
The new version of the bill also eliminates the requirement that dogs and cats adopted from rescues must be sterilized. Impoundment requirements that were extended to animals other than dogs have been eliminated. And the requirement that all animals must be checked for identification including scanned for microchips, if possible, has been limited to dogs and cats.
The state senate has already approved the governor’s new version of the bill.
S.B. 2923/A. 4096 was introduced with the idea animals held in shelters will be more likely to be reunited with their people or find new homes.
The bill also allows animals to be transferred before the expiration of 7 days to rescues or foster homes if their "age, health or other care needs require" it.
The bill would set up a "registry" of rescues. The bill says any animal rescue could voluntarily participate and then states the registry will be regulated by the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Under the bill animal control as well as the shelter, pound, kennel or any rescue facility taking in animals must scan dogs and cats for micro-chips if they have the technology to do so as well as check tags or other information identifying the animal’s people or caregivers; they must contact the animal’s owner if they find information as to identity or know them and then hold the animal for 7 days after notice is provided to the owner.
The bill would kick off a pilot program requiring spay/neuter of dogs and cats adopted from shelters, pounds, kennels and rescues and encouraging owners who retrieve their impounded dog or cat to do the same. They can also be charged with the cost of care of the animal.
Dogs or cats adopted from shelters, pounds, kennels and rescues must be sterilized if they are over 6 months of age and a licensed veterinarian has not certified it would be "detrimental" to the animal’s health other than because of age. A deposit system allows an adopter to pay a deposit at the time of adoption that is refunded once their is proof the animal has been spayed/neutered or a veterinarian certifies the procedure would be "detrimental" to the dog or cat’s health.
New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) and Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) are sponsors of the bill.