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Bill Would Require Pet Owners to be Notified If Vets Leave Them Unsupervised

A photo from the Brick Rotary's 2012 Dog Fest event. (Photo: Brick Rotary)

A photo from the Brick Rotary’s 2012 Dog Fest event. (Photo: Brick Rotary)

Ocean County lawmakers in the state legislature have proposed a bill, approved by the General Assembly on Friday, that would require veterinarians to notify pet owners if their four-legged friend will be left alone overnight.

Known as “Betsy’s Law,” the proposal is named for a Rottweiler that was boarded overnight and hanged herself in her crate as a result of a lack of animal supervision, a statement from state Sen. James Holzapfel and Assembly members Greg McGuckin and Dave Wolfe said. The bill is still pending in the Senate. Betsy’s owner, Madeleine Kayser, is from Toms River. The facility where her pet died in 2007 was located in Burlington County. The bill was originally introduced in 2009 and has languished in Trenton ever since.

Specifically, the law would require veterinarians and animal hospitals to provide pet owners with written notification if a boarded animal will not be subject to 24-hour supervision by a person physically on the premises. Pet owners must also be made aware of the dangers associated with boarding their pets overnight, the legislators’ statement said.

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“When you leave a pet in the care of the veterinary facility you believe they are in good hands and are being supervised around the clock,” said Holzapfel, a former Ocean County prosecutor. “Betsy’s incident was a tragic accident that could have been prevented.”

The bill’s sponsors say the proposal allows consumers to make a more educated choice about where their pets should be treated and prevents veterinarians and animal hospitals from misleading pet owners about boarding policies.

“We’re talking about animal lovers who are leaving their pets in the care of veterinarian facilities, and this was a poignant situation,” said Wolfe, of Betsy’s death. “I think it provides peace of mind for the customer, but is not burdensome for veterinarians.”

The bill has been opposed by the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, which calls its language “draconian” and argues the required statement veterinarians must furnish to pet owners is too long and should be condensed to one sentence.