TRENTON – The full Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that would allow passengers to board public transportation with their pets during a state of emergency or evacuation.
“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 Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), a sponsor of the bill. “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 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 means, and does not pose a health or safety hazard. However, the bill stipulates that passengers on public transportation must be provided seating before a domestic companion animal may be placed in a seat.
Under the bill, pets are characterized 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, raised or otherwise acquired for the primary purpose of providing companionship, rather than for agricultural purposes.
The measure has already been approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and now awaits final legislative approval by the full Senate.
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