Attention NJ Animal Lovers! There are three bills being heard in Trenton next week that you’ll want to know about: legislation to Ban Declawing, Increase Transparency on Veterinary Fees, and Regulate Pet Insurance are all scheduled for Committee Hearings on February 16, 2023.
The first bill is being heard in the Senate Economic Growth Committee. (see info and links below on how to express your support to the Committee members and your District Legislators)
BAN ON DECLAWING
S1803 prohibits the surgical practices of onychectomy (an amputation procedure commonly known as declawing) and flexor tendenectomy (where the tendons are severed to prevent an animal’s claws from extending and retracting) on cats and other animals in the State of NJ.
These procedures are already outlawed in dozens of countries, and are widely-seen to be barbaric and cruel when done solely for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. If this bill and its Assembly companion (A2578) become law, New Jersey would become the third state in the U.S. (joining Maryland and New York) in banning these procedures. The procedures would only be permitted in NJ when deemed medically necessary for a “therapeutic purpose” such as the removal of cancerous tumors. Under the bill, any veterinarian performing these procedures would be required to file a statement with the Department of Health; failure to comply would be subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Pet owners who violate the law would also be held accountable: anyone who causes these procedures to be performed would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in prison, and assessed a civil penalty between $500 and $2,000.
If you would like to contact the Senate Economic Growth Committee and express your thoughts on this bill, you can email your testimony directly to the Committee aide at OLSaideSEG@njleg.org or use the online contact form at this link: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/committees/senate-committees/contact?committee=SEG
The other two bills are being heard in the Senate Commerce Committee.
INCREASING TRANSPARENCY ON VETERINARY FEES
S3137 requires veterinarians to prominently post their prices for both standard and emergency care at their offices. Vets would be permitted to post this information on their website in order to fulfill the bill’s requirements–a provision I contacted the sponsor about today. I believe that pet owners deserve the highest level of transparency possible when it comes to fees, and feel strongly that this information should be posted in both the veterinary office AND on the vet’s website. This would allow pet owners to do their research ahead of time, and make a fully-informed decision when choosing medical care for their pets. *Note: There is currently no Assembly version posted for this bill, so if you’re contacting your State Assembly representatives, you may want to ask them to consider sponsoring one.
REGULATING PET INSURANCE
The other bill up for consideration is S3327, known as The Pet Insurance Act, establishing “a comprehensive legal framework within which pet insurance may be sold” in the State of NJ. The Assembly version, A4942, was released from the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee last month with unanimous bi-partisan support.
The bill seeks to enact a number of consumer protections for those purchasing pet insurance, including placing limits on how insurers can deny pet insurance claims related to pre-existing conditions and increasing disclosure of various terms associated with a pet insurance policy, calling for transparency on policy renewal and limits, waiting periods, benefit schedules, and more. The bill also requires insurers to differentiate between pet wellness programs (which typically cover planned veterinary visits such as routine annual exams, vaccinations and other preventative care) and pet insurance policies (which typically only cover emergency procedures and unexpected care), in order to limit confusion over the two.
If you would like to contact the Senate Commerce Committee and express your thoughts on these two bills, you can email your testimony directly to the Committee aide: OLSaideSCM@njleg.org or use the online contact form at this link: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/committees/senate-committees/contact?committee=SCM
The Committee hearings for all three bills are being held on Thursday, February 16th, so it’s best to submit your feedback to the Committee members as soon as possible, preferably no later than Wednesday morning.
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVES
If you want to have your voice heard on these bills, it is also recommended that you contact the State Senator and State Assemblymembers in your Legislative District, as they are the ones who specifically represent you in the legislature. Here’s how:
STEP 1: Go to https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts to find what Legislative District your town is located in.
STEP 2: Click on the District number to see who your representatives are
STEP 3: Under the phone numbers listed, click on the words CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR(S), and you’ll be directed to a convenient online submission form where you can write to all 3 of your representatives at once.