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Lagana & Pinkin Introduce Bill to Ban Sale of Puppy Mill Puppies at NJ Pet Shops

Bill was Inspired by Story of Paramus Pet Shop which was Shut Down After Dozens of Puppies were Found in Near- Freezing Van Outside Shop; Similar Conditions Found at East Brunswick Shop

(TRENTON) – Hoping to bring an end to the terrible conditions faced by dogs raised in puppy mills, Assembly Democrats Joe Lagana and Nancy Pinkin have introduced a bill that would prohibit pet shops in New Jersey from selling dogs obtained from puppy mills.

The bill is in response to the controversy surrounding Just Pups, a puppy store in Paramus that was shut down earlier this month after 67 puppies were found unattended in a van behind the shop. The puppies had arrived from the owner’s breeding kennel in Missouri. According to police, it was 38 degrees in the van, and some dogs had no food or water and were covered in feces.

The owner of Just Pups owns a chain of pet stores in the state, including one that was closed in East Brunswick last month after it was issued 267 violations by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The most dangerous violation was a lack of disease control.

“I think many people are unaware that a large majority of the puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, which are breeding facilities more concerned with profit than raising healthy, well-adjusted animals,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The conditions under which these animals are raised are inhumane, and can lead to problems for consumers in the future. With so many animals awaiting adoption at shelters, there is no reason why pet stores should be getting puppies from puppy mills where dogs are usually housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without proper care.”

Added Lagana, “if pet stores can no longer get their dogs from puppy mills, then we can help put a dent in the business of bad actors, and hopefully one day make these breeding houses of horror obsolete.”

“Puppy mill puppies are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions, and because they are often separated from their mothers too soon, they develop serious behavioral problems later in life. This is not fair to the animals, or the consumer who take a puppy home unaware of what awaits him,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Puppy mills are able to get away with this cruel treatment because they fulfill a need. Banning the sale of puppy mill puppies at pet stores would not only help protect animals and consumers, but will hopefully reduce the need for these dreadful breeding facilities.”

The bill (A-3645) would prohibit a pet shop from offering for sale or selling any dog that: (1) does not have an animal history and health certificate, (2) is the offspring of a female dog that has been bred more than once in a calendar year and (3) originated from a puppy mill, regardless of whether the pet store received the dog directly from a puppy mill or from a broker, another pet store or some other intermediary source other than a shelter, pound or animal rescue organization. The bill defines puppy mill as a high volume commercial breeder that sells dogs for profit without providing public access to the site where breeding of its dogs takes place, and which engages in poor breeding practices such as a breeding female dogs more than once per calendar year.

A dog obtained by a pet shop directly from a shelter, pound or animal rescue organization would be exempt from the bill’s prohibitions.

Under bill, the Department of Health (DOH) or the local health authority in the municipality where the pet shop is licensed would have to inspect each pet shop within the first 30 days of its opening for business, and once every 90 days thereafter, to confirm the pet shop is in compliance with the bill. Under the bill, the DOH or local health authority would be required to review the documentation for each dog at the pet shop during each inspection, and confirm that the information on the animal history and health certificate is complete and does not indicate any violation of the bill.

The bill provides a revenue source for implementation by reallocating one third of dog registration tag fees moneys collected by municipalities for this purpose. The bill would also establish a penalty for violations of a fine for up to $1,000 and possible license revocation for the pet shop.

Lastly, the bill would authorize the DOH, in cooperation and consultation with the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, to adopt any necessary regulations.