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New Jersey ‘Puppy Mill’ Bill Causing Some Industry Concern


October 17, 2016

Over the summer, New Jersey’s Senate passed a bill aimed at further cracking down on its position against so-called “puppy mills,” or large-scale, commercial breeders.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), looked to require any new pet store licensed on or after Jan. 12 of next year to only sell dogs or cats that hailed from kennels, shelters or animal rescue organizations.

Proposed as a revision to the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Act, the year-old law hailed nationally as a tough check on puppy mills, the Senate-approved bill sought to also prohibit kennels, shelters or animal rescue organizations from purchasing dogs or cats from the commercial breeders.

But while few questioned Lesniak’s good intentions with the measure, some in the pet industry were concerned that it overreaches.

Gary Hager, owner of Bark Avenue Puppies in Red Bank, called the bill a “job destroyer” that is “going to put the last remaining pet stores in New Jersey out of business.”

“It has a reasonable goal, but its methods are completely inappropriate,” said Hager. “The goal of stopping puppy mills, we’re all for. We’re also all for adoption and rescues. We believe in that, too. But we also think that the New Jersey consumer, which has had this right for the longest time, the ability to choose, this bill absolutely, positively takes it away.”

Mike Bober, CEO and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said that, with New Jersey already being one of the most regulated states in the industry through laws already on the books, Lesniak’s latest bill is too much.

“We believe this is not going above and beyond,” said Bober. “We believe this is going in the wrong direction. The reality is that the protections that are in place, that have been in place since June of last year, they’ve already been demonstrated to have a positive impact on the state of pet sales in New Jersey.”

Hager and Bober both believe that the bill, as passed by the Senate in June and sent to the Assembly for consideration, would unwisely make it harder for new pet stores to open and effectively hurt the industry on the whole.

Until something is in writing and formally introduced, those arguments still stand.

But Lesniak says he’s planning to amend the bill in a few ways that should quell some of its opponents’ concerns.

For the full version of this story, including how Lesniak plans to amend the bill, visit NJ Biz here.

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