Veterinarians in New Jersey would have more power to save pets from being put to sleep, under legislation introduced by a state senator.

Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, says the law is needed as the state deals with an aftershock of the pandemic — many people who took in pets when they were at home can no longer be as attentive, and shelters and veterinarians are feeling the impact.

"Unfortunately, some people should not own pets, but they do," Singer told New Jersey 101.5. "Most people who adopt a pet make it a part of their family. But there's a percentage that don't."

Singer's bill aims to protect animals from being euthanized when the procedure isn't absolutely necessary.

Under the measure, veterinarians would be allowed to go against a pet owner's wishes and transfer ownership of an animal instead of euthanizing it. Right now, a veterinarian does not have a choice if a customer wants their pet to be put to sleep instead of having it go to a new home.

Specifically, Singer's bill applies when an animal is considered physically healthy and the request for euthanasia is being made for behavioral reasons. If the vet determines that the behavior of the animal doesn't pose a permanent threat and that the animal can be rehabilitated, the vet should have the option to give it another chance at life, the bill says.

The vet would have to inform the animal's owner prior to transferring ownership to another home or a shelter.

Also, the measure protects vets from liability after they make the transfer of ownership pursuant to the law.

Singer's bill was introduced on Jan. 9 and has been on referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

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