New Jersey law would prevent pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits

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A group of bills that would impact the operation of New Jersey’s pet businesses were discussed Monday morning during a meeting of the state Senate Economic Growth Committee in Trenton.

The three bills, all sponsored by Sen. Brian Stack, D-Union, were not voted on but were heard in an effort to ensure that the concerns of New Jersey residents and those potentially affected are addressed . The latest bill would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.

Brian Hackett, director of government and community relations for the Associated Humane Societies, noted that 24 of the nation’s 25 largest pet retailers don’t sell cats and dogs because it’s not very profitable.

“When you look at pet retail in this country, there are really two models: one is responsible and widespread and the other is inhumane and irresponsible,” he said.

Although many echoed Hackett’s comments, some were opposed to the potential legislation.

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What would the new legislation do?

Introduced by Stack last week, there is no companion bill yet in the Assembly for Stack’s proposed law that would limit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.

The law, if passed, would establish a $500 fine for selling these animals in pet stores. Other animals would still be available for sale, as well as supplies for cats, dogs and rabbits. Stores could also work with organizations to showcase cats, dogs and rabbits available for adoption.

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The legislation would prohibit animal rescue organizations from paying breeders or brokers for cats, dogs or rabbits.

The bill would also impose other requirements regarding the sale and adoption of animals. This would make it illegal for breeders or brokers to sell a cat or dog that they know has a disease, deformity, injury, physical condition or defect that affects seriously harm the animal’s health. It specifies that if the animal dies within two weeks of sale, unless it is by accident or injury during this period, the animal will be considered unfit.

What would the other bills do?

Two other bills were introduced in previous legislative sessions and have counterparts in the Assembly:

Stray and feral cats would need to be sterilized before they can be released for adoption to an animal rescue organization’s facility, shelter, pound or kennel. It would also require that “any community cat” trapped and impounded in a shelter, pound or kennel be spayed or neutered, ear-plugged and vaccinated against rabies before being returned to the location where it was trapped .

The final bill would require pet groomers to be licensed by the state. To be eligible, the groomer must be at least 18 years old and pass a test prepared or approved by the National 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 “pet groomers passionately care for the animals in their care” and want to help improve the bill.

Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. E-mail:


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