A bill introduced in the New Jersey Senate by Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) last week would require that non-profit veterinary services provide services only to animals that are owned by people who are receiving public assistance like food stamps, section 8 housing and welfare.
The bill also requires that all for profit veterinary corporations, partnerships or associations be owned only by licensed veterinarians.
S-297 was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. The Committee is scheduled to meet on January 27.
The Animal Welfare Association (AWA) said that if the bill becomes law their pet clinic and other non-profit pet clinics in New Jersey could not:
- Spay/neuter or treat feral cats
- Spay/neuter or treat shelter animals or rescue animals
- Continue treating feral cats, shelter or rescue animals after the bill’s immediate effective date
- Perform services for any clients not on government assistance
- Provide compassionate euthanasia for medically suffering animals for any clients not on government assistance
- Use current or future grant money to spay/neuter animals for any clients not on government assistance
AWA said that the bill would limit access to pet owners who cannot afford the cost of spay/neuter or other medical treatment at private veterinary practices. It would lead to more animals being surrendered to animal shelters due to the prohibitive cost of medical treatment as well as more unplanned pregnancies and litters of kittens and puppies in our state. Ultimately, this bill would increase the euthanasia of feral cats and shelter/rescue animals throughout New Jersey.
A call on Friday to Viatle’s office inquiring into the need for and public interest served by the bill was not returned.
Amanda Tate Speedling, Director of Communications for the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA), did not return our call asking for the association’s position on the bill.
Maya Richmond, Executive Director of AWA, said there has been a nationwide effort by the Veterinary industry to curtail competition from non-profits.
In 2010, NJVMA led and effort to strip People for Animals, a spray/neuter and rescue non-profit organization with locations in Robbinsville, Hillside and Clayton, New Jersey, of their state grant funding because they were offering wellness services to feral and abandoned animals, which violated the terms of their state grants. The organization gave up the grants and stepped up their private fund raising efforts rather than stop providing the services, according to an article on VIN News Service.
The Senate Commerce Committee is Chaired by Senator Nia Gill, (D-Essex). The Vice-Chair is Senator Ray Lesniak, (D-Union). Senators James Beach (D-Camden), Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Union), and Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) comprise the rest of the committee.