Assemblyman CRAIG J. COUGHLIN
District 19 (Middlesex)
Authorizes immediate euthanasia of impounded stray animals that are injured or ill beyond hope of recovery.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning euthanasia of impounded stray animals, and amending P.L.1941, c.151.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 16 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.16) is amended to read as follows:
16. a. Any person appointed for the purpose by the governing body of the municipality , or any humane law enforcement officer, shall take into custody and impound or cause to be taken into custody and impounded, and thereafter cause to be destroyed or offered for adoption as provided in this section:
[(a)] (1) Any dog off the premises of the owner or of the person keeping or harboring [said] the dog which [said] the official or his agent or agents have reason to believe is a stray dog;
[(b)] (2) Any dog off the premises of the owner or of the person keeping or harboring [said] the dog without a current registration tag on his collar;
[(c)] (3) Any female dog in season off the premises of the owner or of the person keeping or harboring [said] the dog;
[(d)] (4) Any dog or other animal which is suspected to be rabid;
[(e)] (5) Any dog or other animal off the premises of the owner reported to, or observed by, a certified animal control officer to be ill, injured or creating a threat to public health, safety or welfare, or otherwise interfering with the enjoyment of property.
b. If any animal [so] seized pursuant to this section wears a collar or harness having inscribed thereon or attached thereto the name and address of any person or a registration tag, or the owner or the person keeping or harboring [said] the animal is known, any person authorized by the governing body shall forthwith serve on the person whose address is given on the collar, or on the owner or the person keeping or harboring [said] the animal, if known, a notice in writing stating that the animal has been seized and will be liable to be offered for adoption or destroyed if not claimed within seven days after the service of the notice. Such notice shall also state that, in the event that a veterinarian concludes, following a medical examination of the animal, that the animal is beyond reasonable hope of recovery due to illness, disease, infirmity, impairment, or injury, the animal may be immediately destroyed in accordance with the provisions of subsection d. of this section.
A notice [under this section] issued in accordance with this subsection may be served either by delivering it to the person on whom it is to be served, or by leaving it at the person’s usual or last known place of abode, or at the address given on the collar, or by forwarding it by post in a prepaid letter addressed to that person at his usual or last known place of abode, or to the address given on the collar.
c. Any person authorized by the governing body may , seven days after the seizure of an animal pursuant to subsection a. of this section or seven days after the service of notice pursuant to subsection b. of this section, whichever is later, cause [an] the animal to be offered for adoption, or to be destroyed in a manner causing as little pain as possible , and using methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, permitted by State law or regulation, and consistent with the provisions of R.S.4:22-19 [or to be offered for adoption seven days after seizure]; provided that:
(1) Notice [is given] has been served as set forth [above] in subsection b. of this section and the animal remains unclaimed; or
(2) The owner or person keeping or harboring the animal has not claimed the animal and paid all expenses incurred by reason of its detention, including maintenance costs not exceeding $4.00 per day; or
(3) The owner or person keeping or harboring a dog which was unlicensed at the time of seizure does not produce a license and registration tag for the dog.
d. A veterinarian licensed pursuant to chapter 16 of Title 45 of the Revised Statutes shall forthwith conduct a medical examination of any animal seized pursuant to this section that shows signs of illness, disease, infirmity, impairment, or injury. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection c. of this section to the contrary, if, as a result of the medical examination, the veterinarian concludes that the examined animal is beyond reasonable hope of recovery due to illness, disease, infirmity, impairment, or injury, the animal may be immediately destroyed in a manner causing as little pain as possible, and using methods that are approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, permitted by State law or regulation, and consistent with the provisions of R.S.4:22-19.
e. At the time of adoption, the right of ownership in the animal shall transfer to the new owner. No dog or other animal so caught and detained or procured, obtained, sent or brought to a pound or shelter shall be sold or otherwise made available for the purpose of experimentation. Any person who sells or otherwise makes available any such dog or other animal for the purpose of experimentation shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
f. After observation, any animal seized under this section suspected of being rabid shall be immediately reported to the executive officer of the local board of health and to the Department of Health and Senior Services.
g. A person who destroys an animal in accordance with the provisions of this section shall not be liable therefor to the owner of the animal.
(cf: P.L.1997, c.324, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would amend the law pertaining to the seizure and impoundment of stray animals – i.e., animals found to be running at large – in order to allow for the immediate euthanasia of impounded strays that are found by a veterinarian to be beyond reasonable hope of recovery due to illness, disease, infirmity, impairment, or injury.
Current law requires all impounded stray animals to be held for seven days prior to their euthanasia or placement for adoption. This seven-day waiting period allows time for the owner to be notified of the seizure so that the owner can claim possession of and recover the animal, and it also provides an opportunity for the impounder to observe the animal for signs of rabies. Although the bill would leave this seven-day rule in place for the majority of impounded animals, it would create an exception in order to allow for the humane and prompt destruction of impounded strays that are determined by a veterinarian, following a medical examination, to be so severely ill, infirm, or injured that their natural survival is not reasonably likely.
The authorization of the immediate euthanasia of a stray impounded animal is consistent with the State’s laws pertaining to the humane treatment of animals, as such authorization prevents a dying impounded stray from having to suffer needlessly for seven days while its owner, if any, is located. This waiting period is not necessary for rabies prevention, since rabies testing can be performed using samples from a deceased animal. Moreover, in every other instance in which State law authorizes the euthanasia of sick, injured, or dying animals, no similar waiting period is required.
In particular, the use of euthanasia without adherence to a waiting period is currently authorized by State law in each of the following circumstances: (1) when an animal, whether abandoned or not, is found in a maimed, sick, infirm, or disabled condition and a person appointed by a court, county sheriff, or the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals concludes, following a medical examination, that the animal is unfit for further use; (2) when an animal is seized as part of an animal fighting ring, and the animal, despite having not yet been adjudged forfeited by the owner, is determined to be beyond reasonable hope of recovery; and (3) when an animal housed in a kennel, pet shop, or animal shelter is determined by a veterinarian to be sick, diseased, injured, or lame, except in the case that euthanasia is inconsistent with the purposes for which the animal is being held. This bill would serve to bring consistency and uniformity to the laws pertaining to the treatment of sick, injured and dying animals, by ensuring that all such animals may be promptly and humanely euthanized without adherence to a waiting period.