From the Editor

Betsy’s Law: Do You Offer 24 Hour Care?

By Rebecca Shipman

Rebecca Shipman - Managing Editor

The state of New Jersey has recently passed a bill that requires veterinary and animal hospitals to:

(a) notify the owner of the domestic companion animal that there is a need or intention to keep the animal at the facility after normal business hours;

(b) provide written notification to the owner of the domestic companion animal, advising the owner of the absence of after normal business hours supervision; and

(c) give the owner of the domestic companion animal the opportunity to decline leaving the animal at the veterinary facility after normal business hours.

The name of this law is “Betsy’s Law”. Betsy was a young Rottweiler who died at a veterinary office by slowly strangling herself after her collar got caught on the cage. The dog was only there for a routine eye surgery, and to be “monitored” overnight. Betsy’s owner fought for 8 years to get this law passed, and in September of this year, she finally succeeded.

While section (a) of this law may not apply to most of you, unless of course you have an onsite animal hospital, overnight boarding facilities may be more at risk for something to go wrong overnight due to the higher number of dogs in their care.

I believe the majority of overnight boarding facilities do have 24 hour care, or, a lot of times, the owner lives on site. But what about those that don’t? What if something goes wrong? And if you don’t, is it disclosed to the clients that their pets will be unsupervised for an extended amount of time?

The possibilities of what can go wrong are endless; a similar situation to the reason for this law in the first place is always possible, or a bonded pair of dogs sharing a kennel may get into a fight for a reason no one will ever know. And if you board elderly dogs, puppies, or special needs dogs the chances of an incident are much higher.

If Betsy’s Law is extended to all overnight animal care facilities, are you prepared to make it known to your clients that their furry family members will be left unattended all night?

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