Office of Animal Welfare

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It's the Law

In this section, the Office of Animal Welfare features select provisions of the law for the benefit of regulators and regulated entities.
4:19-15.2 Dogs; license and metal registration tag required;  placing tag  on dog
Any person who shall own, keep or harbor a dog of licensing age shall annually or every third year, in accordance with a 3-year dog license or renewal thereof issued under subsection b. of section 12 of this act (C. 4:19-15.12b), apply for and procure from the clerk of the municipality or other  official designated by the governing body thereof to license dogs in the  municipality in which he resides, a license and official metal registration tag  for each such dog so owned, kept or harbored, and shall place upon each such  dog a collar or harness with the registration tag securely fastened thereto.
 
4:19-15.2a  Evidence of inoculation with rabies vaccine or certification of  exemption;  requirement for license
No municipal clerk or other official designated by the governing body of any  municipality to license dogs therein shall grant any such license and official  metal registration tag for any dog unless the owner thereof provides evidence  that the dog to be licensed and registered has been inoculated with a rabies  vaccine of a type approved by and administered in accordance with the  recommendations of the United States Department of Agriculture and the United  States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, or has been certified  exempt as provided by regulations of the State Department of Health.  Such vaccination shall be repeated at intervals as provided by regulations of the State Department of Health, and shall be administered by a duly licensed veterinarian or by such other veterinarian permitted by law to do the same.   The State Department of Health shall promulgate regulations providing for the recognized duration of immunity, interval of inoculation, certificate of vaccination, certificate of exemption, and such other matters related to this act.

4:19-15.4  Time for applying for license
The owner of any newly-acquired dog of licensing age or of any dog which attains licensing age, shall make application for license and registration tag for such dog within ten days after such acquisition or age attainment.

4:19-15.8 Licensing of kennel, pet shop, shelter, pound

  1. Any person who keeps or operates or proposes to establish a kennel, a pet shop, a shelter or a pound shall apply to the clerk or other official designated to license dogs in the municipality where such establishment is located, for a license entitling him to keep or operate such establishment.

    The application shall describe the premises where the establishment is located or is proposed to be located, the purpose or purposes for which it is to be maintained, and shall be accompanied by the written approval of the local municipal and health authorities showing compliance with the local and State rules and regulations governing location of and sanitation at such establishments.

  2. All licenses issued for a kennel, pet shop, shelter or pound shall state the purpose for which the establishment is maintained, and all such licenses shall expire on the last day of June of each year, and be subject to revocation by the municipality on recommendation of the State Department of Health or the local board of health for failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the State department or local board governing the same, after the owner has been afforded a hearing by either the State department or local board, except as provided in subsection c. of this section.

    Any person holding such license shall not be required to secure individual licenses for dogs owned by such licensee and kept at such establishments; such licenses shall not be transferable to another owner or different premises.

  3. The license for a pet shop shall be subject to review by the municipality, upon recommendation by the State Department of Health or the local health authority for failure by the pet shop to comply with the rules and regulations of the State department or local health authority governing pet shops or if the pet shop meets the criteria for recommended suspension or revocation provided under subsection c. or d. of section 5 of P.L.1999, c.336 (C.56:8-96), after the owner of the pet shop has been afforded a hearing pursuant to subsection e. of section 5 of P.L.1999, c.336 (C.56:8-96).

    The municipality, based on the criteria for the recommendation of the local health authority provided under subsections c. and d. of section 5 of P.L.1999, c.336 (C.56:8-96), may suspend the license for 90 days or may revoke the license if it is determined at the hearing that the pet shop: (1) failed to maintain proper hygiene and exercise reasonable care in safeguarding the health of animals in its custody or (2) sold a substantial number of animals that the pet shop knew, or reasonably should have known, to be unfit for purchase.

  4. The municipality may issue a license for a pet shop that permits the pet shop to sell pet supplies for all types of animals, including cats and dogs, and sell animals other than cats and dogs but restricts the pet shop from selling cats or dogs, or both.

  5. Every pet shop licensed in the State shall submit annually and no later than May 1 of each year records of the total number of cats and dogs, respectively, sold by the pet shop each year to the municipality in which it is located, and the municipality shall provide this information to the local health authority.

N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.14 Rules and Regulations for kennels, pet shops, shelters and pounds
The State Department of Health shall, within six months of the approval of this act and with the co-operation and assistance of the State Department of Agriculture, prepare and promulgate rules and regulations governing the sanitary conduct and operation of kennels, pet shops, shelters and pounds, to preserve sanitation therein and prevent the spread of rabies and other diseases of dogs within and from such establishments.
Such rules and regulations shall be enforced by the State Department of Health and by local boards of health.

N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16

a. The certified animal control officer appointed by the governing body of the municipality shall take into custody and impound any animal, to thereafter be euthanized or offered for adoption, as provided in this section:

(1)Any dog off the premises of the owner or of the person charged with the care of the dog, which is reasonably believed to be a stray dog;

(2)Any dog off the premises of the owner or the person charged with the care of the dog without a current registration tag on its collar or elsewhere;

(3)Any female dog in season off the premises of the owner or the person charged with the care of the dog;

(4)Any dog or other animal which is suspected to be rabid; or

(5)Any dog or other animal off the premises of the owner or the person charged with its care that is 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 an animal taken into custody and impounded pursuant to subsection a. of this section has a collar or harness with identification of the name and address of any person, or has a registration tag, or has a microchip with an identification number that can be traced to the owner or person charged with the care of the animal, or the owner or the person charged with the care of the animal is otherwise known, the certified animal control officer shall ascertain the name and address of the owner or the person charged with the care of the animal, and serve to the identified person as soon as practicable, a notice in writing that the animal has been seized and will be liable to be offered for adoption or euthanized if not claimed within seven days after the service of the notice.

c. A notice required pursuant to this section may be served:  (1) 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 residence or the address given on the collar, harness, or microchip identification; or (2) by mailing the notice to that person at the person's usual or last known place of residence, or to the address given on the collar, harness or microchip identification.

d. A shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer pursuant to subsection a. of this section, or from any other individual, group, or organization, shall hold the animal for at least seven days before offering it for adoption, or euthanizing, relocating, or sterilizing the animal, except if:

(1)the animal is surrendered voluntarily by its owner to the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, in which case the provisions of subsection e. of this section shall apply; or

(2)the animal is suspected of being rabid, in which case the provisions of subsection j. of this section shall apply.

e.If a shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound is not required to hold an animal for at least seven days pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection d. of this section, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1)shall offer the animal for adoption for at least seven days before euthanizing it; or

(2)may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such a transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.

f.Except as otherwise provided for under subsection e. of this section, no shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home until the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound has held the animal for at least seven days.

g.If the owner or the person charged with the care of the animal seeks to claim it within seven days, or after the seven days have elapsed but before the animal has been adopted or euthanized, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1)shall, in the case of a cat or dog, release it to the owner or person charged with its care, provided the owner or person charged with the care of the animal provides proof of ownership, which may include a valid cat or dog license, registration, rabies inoculation certificate, or documentation from the owner's veterinarian that the cat or dog has received regular care from that veterinarian;

(2)may, in the case of a cat or dog, charge the cost of sterilizing the cat or dog, if the owner requests such sterilizing when claiming it; and

(3)may require the owner or person charged with the care of the animal to pay all the animal's expenses while in the care of the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, not to exceed $4 per day.

h.If the animal remains unclaimed, is not claimed due to the failure of the owner or other person to comply with the requirements of this section, or is not adopted after seven days after the date on which notice is served pursuant to subsection c. of this section or, if no notice can be served, not less than seven days after the date on which the animal was impounded, the impounded animal may be placed in a foster home, transferred to another shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility, or euthanized in a manner causing as little pain as possible and consistent with the provisions of R.S.4:22-19.

i.At the time of adoption, the right of ownership in the animal shall transfer to the new owner.  No dog or other animal taken into custody, impounded, sent or otherwise brought to a shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound shall be sold or otherwise be 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.

j.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 shall be quarantined, observed, and otherwise handled and dealt with as appropriate for an animal suspected of being rabid or as required by the Department of Health for the animals.

k.When a certified animal control officer takes into custody and impounds, or causes to be taken into custody and impounded, an animal, the certified animal control officer may place the animal in the custody of, or cause the animal to be placed in the custody of, only a licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.  The certified animal control officer may not place the animal in the custody of, or cause the animal to be placed in the custody of, any animal rescue organization facility, foster home, or other unlicensed facility.  However, the licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound may place the animal in an animal rescue organization facility, foster home, or other unlicensed facility if necessary pursuant to subsection e. or h. of this section.

l.Notwithstanding the provisions of this section and sections 3 and 4 of P.L.2011, c.142 (C.4:19-15.30 and C.4:19-15.31) to the contrary, no cat or dog being transferred between shelters, pounds, or kennels operating as shelters or pounds, or being transferred to an animal rescue organization facility or placed in a foster home, shall be required to be sterilized prior to that transfer.

4:19-15.16b Appointment of certified animal control officer  
The governing body of a municipality shall, within three years of the effective date of P.L.1983, c.525, appoint a certified animal control officer who shall be responsible for animal control within the jurisdiction of the municipality and who shall enforce and abide by the provisions of section 16 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.16).  The governing body shall not appoint a certified animal control officer, shall not contract for animal control services with any company that employs a certified animal control officer, and shall revoke the appointment of a certified animal control officer, who has been convicted of, or found civilly liable for, a violation of any provision of chapter 22 of Title 4 of the Revised Statutes or whose name is on the list or any revision thereto established and provided by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services pursuant to subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.1983, c.525 (C.4:19-15.16a).  The governing body shall, within 30 days after receipt thereof, review any such list or revision thereto received by the municipality and shall, within that 30-day period, take action accordingly as required pursuant to this section.

The governing body may authorize the certified animal control officer to investigate and sign complaints, arrest violators, and otherwise act as an officer for detection, apprehension, and arrest of offenders against the animal control, animal welfare and animal cruelty laws of the State, and ordinances of the municipality, if the officer has completed the training required pursuant to paragraph 4 of subsection a. of section 3 of P.L.1983, c.525 (C.4:19-15.16a).  Only certified animal control officers who have completed the training may be authorized by the governing body to so act as an officer for detection, apprehension, and arrest of offenders; however, officers who have completed the training shall not have the authority to so act unless authorized by the governing body which is employing the officer or contracting for the officer's services.

4:19-15.32 Impounded cat, dog, search for owner prior to release to adopter, euthanization 
a. When a cat or dog is put in the custody of and impounded with a shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or an animal rescue organization facility receives a cat or dog, the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility shall, if the identity of the owner is not known, scan the animal for microchip identification, provided the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility has such technology available.

b.Prior to release of any cat or dog for adoption, transfer to another facility or foster home, or euthanasia of the cat or dog, the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility shall, if the identity of the owner is not known, scan the cat or dog for microchip identification, provided the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility has such technology available.

c.If either scan required pursuant to subsection a. or b. of this section reveals information concerning the owner of the cat or dog, the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility shall immediately seek to contact and notify the owner of the whereabouts of the cat or dog.  Furthermore, if microchip identification is found, the shelter, pound, kennel operating as a shelter or pound, or animal rescue organization facility shall hold the animal for at least seven days after the notification to the owner.

4:19-15.33  Registry of animal rescue organizations, facilities
a. The Department of Health shall establish a registry of animal rescue organizations and their facilities in the State.  Any animal rescue organization may voluntarily participate in the registry.

b.The department, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), may adopt any rules and regulations determined necessary to implement the voluntary registry and coordinate its use with the provisions of P.L.2011, c.142 (C.4:19-15.30 et al.) and section 16 of P.L.1941, c.151 (C.4:19-15.16).

26:4-78 Report of suspected cases of rabies
Whenever a dog, cat or other animal is affected by rabies or suspected of being affected by rabies or has been bitten by an animal known or suspected to be affected by rabies, the owner or person in charge of the animal or any person having knowledge thereof, shall forthwith notify the local board having jurisdiction of the place where the animal is located. The notification shall be in writing, signed by the person making the same and shall state where the animal may be found.
 
26:4-79  Report by physician attending person bitten by animal
Every physician shall, within twelve hours after his first professional attendance upon any person bitten by a dog, cat or other animal, report to the person designated by law or by the local board, under authority of law, to receive reports of reportable communicable diseases in the municipality in which the person so bitten may be, the name, age, sex, color and the precise location of the person so bitten.
 
26:4-80  Report by parent or guardian when child is bitten and no physician  attends
 The parent or guardian of a child bitten by a dog, cat or other animal, when  no physician attends such child, shall within twelve hours after first having  knowledge that the child was so bitten, report to the person designated by law  or by the local board, under authority of law, to receive reports of reportable  communicable diseases in the municipality in which the child so bitten may be,  the name, age, sex, color and the precise location of the child.

26:4-81 Report when adult is bitten and no physician attends
If an adult is bitten by a dog, cat or other animal and no physician attends him, the adult, or if he is incapacitated, the person caring for him, shall report to the person designated by law or by the local board of health to receive reports of communicable diseases in the municipality in which the adult  so bitten may be, the name, age, sex, color and the precise location of the  adult.

The report shall be made within twelve hours after the adult was so bitten,  or if he is incapacitated, the report shall be made within twelve hours after  the person caring for him shall first have knowledge that the adult was so  bitten.

26:4-82 Confining animal which has attacked or bitten person
The local board, within its jurisdiction, may serve notice upon the owner or person in charge of a dog, cat or other animal which has attacked or bitten a person, to confine the animal at the expense of the owner or person in charge  of it upon the premises of the owner or person in charge or at some other place  designated in the notice, for at least ten days after the animal has attacked  or bitten a person.

26:4-83  Killing or confining animal bitten by another
The local board, within its jurisdiction, shall serve a notice, in writing,  upon the owner or person in charge of a dog, cat or other animal known or  suspected to have been bitten by an animal known or suspected of being affected  by rabies, requiring the owner or person in charge of the animal to kill it or  confine it for a period of not less than six months.

26:4-84  Confining animals to prevent spread of rabies
Whenever the local board or any officer or inspector thereof has reason to believe or has been notified by the State Department that there is danger that rabies may spread within the jurisdiction of such board, such board, officer or  inspector shall serve a notice, in writing, upon all persons within the jurisdiction of such board, so far as the same may be known to the board or to such officer or inspector thereof, owning or having charge of any dog, requiring such person to confine such dog, or such board, officer or inspector in lieu of serving such notice, in writing, may cause a notice to be published in the official newspaper of such municipality.  Other animals may be included in the order whenever, in the opinion of such board, this is necessary.

Whenever the State Department has knowledge that any case of rabies exists among dogs or other domestic animals, within the State, and in its judgment the disease is liable to spread, the department may issue an order requiring any local board to order animals confined as provided in this section, and to cause its provisions to be enforced, by appropriate proceedings either in law or in equity.

26:4-85 Permit to release animals
An animal confined under order of the local board shall not be released until a certificate of release has been issued by the board.
 
26:4-86 Examination of animals by local board
The local board or the duly authorized agent of such board, within its jurisdiction, shall be permitted by the owner or person in charge of a dog, cat or other animal which has attacked or bitten a person, to examine the animal at any time, and daily if desired, within a period of ten days after the animal has attacked or bitten a person, to determine whether the animal shows symptoms of rabies. 

If the animal dies within the ten day confinement period or if the owner or person in charge of the animal elects to destroy the animal at any time during the confinement period, the local board may order a laboratory examination for rabies to be performed. 

No person shall refuse, obstruct, or interfere with the local board in making any examination authorized pursuant to this section.

26:4-89 Free Pasteur treatment
Each local board may furnish without charge the Pasteur treatment for any indigent person, residing within its jurisdiction, who has been bitten by an animal known or suspected to be affected by rabies.

Any expense thus incurred shall be provided for by the governing body having charge of the finances of the municipality in which the indigent person resides in the same manner as the regular funds of the board are provided for.