TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew to allow pet owners to board public transportation with a pet during an evacuation in connection with a declared state of emergency was approved Thursday by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“For the safety of our residents and rescue workers, it is critical that everyone follows evacuation orders when they are given. However, we know there are always people that stay behind during a crisis because they refuse to leave their pets. As a dog owner I completely understand this, but I also recognize the incredible danger involved in remaining in a storm-threatened area,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic). “We have to give people the ability to get their animals out of harm’s way during a declared state of emergency. Allowing pets to board public transportation with their owners is the compassionate thing to do, and it’s the smart thing to do for the safety of our state.”
The measure (S-1804) would permit pets to ride on public transportation for emergency evacuation purposes provided that doing so would not prevent other humans from evacuating. The pet owner could board public transportation as long as the pet was under the owner’s control by use of a leash or tether, or properly secured and confined to an appropriate container or other suitable means. Only pets that do not pose a health or safety hazard could ride on public transportation for emergency evacuation purposes, under the legislation.
A “pet” would be defined as a domestic companion animal such as a dog, cat, bird, fish, or any animal commonly referred to as a pet that has been bought, bred or raised or otherwise acquired for the primary purpose of providing companionship rather than agricultural purposes.
The Committee approved the measure by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.