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Bergen Lawmakers Win Protection For Parents Of Service Dogs In Training

The new law takes effect immediately.
The new law takes effect immediately. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT

Gov. Christie on Wednesday signed into law a measure supporting individuals or groups who temporarily care for dogs in training as service animals.

Caregivers are now exempt from having to obtain a license and registration tag while the service-animal-in-training is placed in a foster home, under the measure, co-sponsored by state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen/Passaic) and Assemblymen David Russo of Midland Park and Scott Rumana of Wayne.

“Devoted volunteers dedicate years of their lives to training service animals to be faithful, steadfast companions to some of our state’s most vulnerable and honorable residents,” O’Toole said. “This new law allows foster parents to spend more of their time and money on training service animals instead of on needless bureaucracy.

"This exemption is a simple solution to allow foster parents to focus on training dogs to be lifesaving companions for people with physical and developmental disabilities, senior citizens and military veterans,” he said.

“For people living with impaired vision, mobility difficulties, and hearing issues, service dogs provide renewed freedom,” added Rumana (R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris). “These highly trained service dogs assist people in need with so many important tasks.”

“These helpful dogs are part of an organization that provides a great service to the community," said Russo (R-Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Morris). "Our bill permits the vaccination schedules set forth by the Seeing Eye to be observed in a consistent fashion while avoiding unnecessary over-vaccination,”

Under the previous law, a dog’s owner or foster parent had to apply and procure a dog license and registration tag for any dog age seven months or older.

“Passing this legislation is a clear expression of our support for these caregivers – a message I hope will inspire others to take up the task of training loving and loyal service animals,” O’Toole concluded.

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