A group of bills that would impact the way New Jersey pet businesses operate were the topic of a discussion on Monday morning during a meeting of the state Senate Economic Growth Committee in Trenton.
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The three bills, all sponsored by state Sen. Brian Stack, D-Union, were not voted on but were heard in an effort to make sure that the concerns of the New Jersey residents and those potentially impacted are considered. The newest bill of the bunch would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.
Brian Hackett, New Jersey State Director of The Humane Society of the United States, noted that 24 of 25 largest pet retailers in the country don’t sell cats and dogs because it’s not a very profitable business item.
“When we consider the pet retail business in this country, there are really two models, one is responsible and prevalent and the other is inhumane and irresponsible,” he said.
While many echoed what Hackett had to say, some were opposed to the potential legislation.
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What would the new legislation do?
Introduced by Stack last week, there is not yet a companion bill in the Assembly for Stack’s proposed law that would curb the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.
The law, if enacted, would establish a $500 fine for selling those animals in pet shops. Other animals would still be available to be sold as would supplies for cats, dogs and rabbits. Shops would also be able to work with organizations to showcase cats, dogs and rabbits that are available for adoption.
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Animal rescue organizations would be prohibited by the legislation from paying breeders or brokers for cats, dogs or rabbits.
The bill would also put other requirements about selling and adopting animals. It would make it illegal for a breeder or broker to sell a cat or dog that they know has any sort of disease, deformity, injury, physical condition, illness, or defect that severely affects the health of the animal. It specifies that if the animal dies within two weeks of the sale, unless its by accident or injury during that time, the animal would be considered unfit.
What would the other bills do?
Two other bills have been introduced in previous legislative sessions and have Assembly counterparts:
One would require stray and feral cats to be spayed or neutered before that can be released for adoption from an animal rescue organization facility, shelter, pound or kennel. It would also require “any community cat” that is trapped and impounded at a shelter, pound or kennel to be spayed or neutered, ear tipped and vaccinated against rabies before being returned to the location where they were trapped.
The final bill would require pet groomers to be licensed by the state. In order to be eligible, the groomer would have to be at least 18 and pass a test prepared or approved by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The bill would also require grooming businesses to register with the board.
Chris Anthony of the New Jersey Professional Pet Groomers Alliance spoke out against the bill, saying that “pet groomers care passionately for the animals in their care” and that they want to help make the bill better.
Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: [email protected]