In New Jersey the full Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that would allow passengers to board public transportation with their pets during a state of emergency or evacuation.

People love their pets. This is a fact that can’t be disputed.

It became crystal clear during Superstorm Sandy in the Garden State and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans when many people stayed home despite evacuation orders because they couldn’t take their pets on buses or trains.

“We first saw the realities of this situation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina when many residents refused to evacuate because they couldn’t bring their pets with them,” explains bill co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “During Sandy, this reality hit home. This jeopardizes not only the lives of residents and the emergency personnel struggling to evacuate them, but also these defenseless pets. This measure will help us avoid this situation as much as humanly possible.”

Leashed Pets Would be Allowed

The bill would let a pet owner board public transportation as long as the animal is under the owner’s control by use of a leash or tether, or is properly confined and doesn’t pose a health or safety hazard.  The bill stipulates that passengers on public transportation must be given a seat before a pet may be placed in a seat.

“During Superstorm Sandy we heard many heartbreaking stories of families getting separated from their pets, some who are still trying to reunite with them more than four months later,” says Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, the bill’s other sponsor. “The last thing we want is a pet owner to refuse to evacuate because they can’t bring their pet with them. This is the right thing to do from a practical standpoint.”

The measure has already been approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and now awaits final legislative approval by the full Senate.