Monday, September 21, 2015

O'Toole Bill Will Help Service Animals

The New Jersey State Senate Economic Growth Committee has advanced a bill sponsored by Senator Kevin O’Toole to provide much-needed support for individuals or groups temporarily caring for dogs who are training to be service animals. S-2281 exempts that these dedicated caregivers and “foster parents” from applying for and procuring a license and registration tag for the dog, while the service-animal-in-training is placed in a foster home.

“Seeing-eye dogs and service animals are vital to the health and welfare of our state’s most vulnerable residents,” Senator O’Toole said.  “At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of service dogs are assisting disabled individuals in every corner of America.  The volunteers and foster parents who care for service dogs provide extremely specialized and time-consuming training – often at a great cost.

“By passing this bill, we are offering vital support by allowing caregivers to spend more time training a dog to be a life-saving companion, without having to worry about procuring a license or registration tag. It is my hope that removing this red tape will encourage more New Jerseyans to take on the responsibility of training dogs to be loyal and loving service animals,” Senator O’Toole added.

Under current law, a dog’s owner or foster parent must apply and procure a dog license and registration tag for any dog age seven months or older. This includes dogs training to be seeing eye, hearing ear, and service animals for blind, deaf, and developmentally disabled individuals.

An identical version of Senator O’Toole’s S-2281 passed unanimously in the Assembly and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. If signed into law, the legislation would take effect immediately.

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