This alert may also be viewed at http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/new-jersey-senate-bill-63-february-3-alert/.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
On Monday, February 8, 2016, the New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee will consider Senate Bill 63. The bill repeals consumer protection laws for pet purchasers, prohibits the sale of dogs unless the transactions are conducted face-to-face, and requires pet shops to sell dogs sourced only from shelters and pounds. Because SB 63 will ultimately harm consumers and all dog breeders, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs strongly oppose Senate Bill 63. It is crucial that all concerned dog owners and breeders, including breeders who reside outside of New Jersey who may sell a dog in the state and owners who reside in New Jersey and wish to preserve the option of purchasing a purpose-bred dog from out of state, contact the members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee and urge strong opposition to the radical legislation prior to Monday’s committee hearing. Interested parties are also strongly encouraged to attend Monday’s hearing and express respectful but strong opposition to SB 63.
If enacted as currently written, SB 63 will upend New Jersey’s current animal laws in favor of radical, untested policies that will ultimately harm consumers. Banning the sale of pets from known, regulated and inspected sources, and allowing pet shops to only sell pets from unknown, unregulated and uninspected sources, does the exact opposite of its purported intent: It removes available consumer protections for new pet owners and potentially increases public health risks for the entire community.
Key Problems with SB 63 include:
- All provisions of New Jersey’s Pet Purchaser Protection Act will be repealed, including provisions put into effect as recently as 2015. Consumer protection laws protect purchasers, incentivize the breeding of healthy animals in safe conditions, and add stability to commerce involving pet sales. Repealing such laws not only harms significant recent advancement in industry standards for professional breeding practices; it also harms consumers who will no longer be able to obtain information about the breeder, pedigree or original source of a pet purchased from a pet shop, and eliminates consumer options for recourse if they encounter problems with such a pet. New Jersey’s consumers deserve the reasonable protections provided by the state’s Pet Purchaser Protection Act and the right to obtain a healthy pet of their choice.
- It will prohibit the sale, offer for sale, transfer, exchange, or barter of a dog or cat, or otherwise engage in a transaction concerning a dog or cat, unless the transaction is completed in person. This provision explicitly applies to transactions between a breeder or other seller (undefined in SB 63) and a consumer who are both in New Jersey, between a breeder or other seller in the state and a consumer in another state, and between a breeder or other seller in another state and a consumer in New Jersey. It is further problematic that any group organized as a rescue/shelter or similar entity already exempt from current consumer protection laws would also be exempt from these requirements.
- The AKC has for years encouraged puppy buyers to exercise responsibility by meeting the breeders of their new pet and working with them to understand the requirements, commitment, and challenges that come with a new puppy. However, as currently written, SB 63 encompasses not only internet-based sellers, but also small hobby breeders. SB 63 punishes responsible breeders and lacks a fundamental understanding of how small hobby breeders operate. Furthermore, SB 63 creates an unfair burden on hobby breeders who may depend on the ability to place dogs selectively in known situations without physically meeting with the purchaser in their home or kennel at the specific time of sale. Many hobbyists are comfortable purchasing an animal sight unseen based on years of studying bloodlines and pedigrees, the existence of previous relationships or purchases from the same breeder, or personal knowledge of a breeder’s facilities and operating procedures. These scenarios are particularly common for breeders and fanciers of rare breeds. Likewise, it is also not reasonable for hobby breeders—including those who may own several “breeding females” but who breed very rarely or breed rare breeds—to expect that purchasers will be willing to travel long distances to purchase a particular puppy in person.
- While punishing small responsible hobby breeders, consumers, and licensed and regulated pet shops in New Jersey communities, SB 63 does nothing to prohibit the larger problem of the sale of puppies and kittens from the back of trucks in parking lots and highway rest stops.
- Pet stores will be allowed to sell only those dogs and cats sourced from shelters and other similar organizations. Unfortunately, many communities lack sufficient local breeders to meet the demand for the specific pets desired by local residents. If SB 63 is enacted, families in New Jersey will lose an important source for choosing a pet that is the best fit for their lifestyle and circumstances. Those seeking a puppy that is a specific breed from a professional breeder subject to USDA or state animal welfare standards, or one that has traditionally been covered by New Jersey’s pet purchaser protection laws, will likely have little other alternative than to obtain a pet of unknown origin and health history or status.
- When consumers cannot acquire a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, that animal is more likely to end up in the shelter system. A better solution is to ensure that consumers are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership, and have access to a variety of pets so that they can make educated choices.
- Local governments will be permitted to enact more restrictive local control over pet stores. Affording localities this power will likely further restrict New Jersey consumers’ ability to obtain quality pets that are the best for their lifestyle, that are from the source of their choosing, and that have been subject to regulated and inspected sources.
- Includes over two pages of misleading legislative “findings” that impugn dog breeders with out-of-date information, questionable statistics, and discredited conjecture. In practice, legislative findings that are enacted are often used as justification for additional legislation later. AKC believes disputed and purposefully misleading anti-breeder language must not become part of New Jersey statutory law.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
It is imperative that all concerned dog owners and breeders, and residents of New Jersey who wish to preserve the option to obtain a pet of their choice, email and call the members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee and urge strong opposition to the radical SB 63 prior to their meeting on Monday, February 8, 2016. Interested parties are also strongly encouraged to attend Monday’s hearing and express respectful but strong opposition to SB 63.
Members of the New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee:
State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, Committee Chairman – Sen. Lesniak is currently the only sponsor of SB 63. As the chairman of the committee who will consider the bill he sponsored, it is likely that the bill will pass the committee as currently written. However, media reports have indicated that State Senator Lesniak is considering a run to become New Jersey’s next governor. Therefore, it is important that concerned parties express respectful yet emphatic doubt on the wisdom of removing consumer protections that benefit voters who will decide upon his likely candidacy.
Union District Office: 985 Stuyvesant Ave. Union, NJ 07083 Phone: (908) 624-0880
Elizabeth District Office: 65 Jefferson Ave. Suite B Elizabeth, NJ 07201 Phone: (908) 327-9119
State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Committee Vice Chair
Phone—Audubon, NJ District Office: (856) 547-4800 Phone—Camden, NJ District Office: (856) 541-1251 Phone—Woodbury, NJ District Office (856) 853-2960 Email: SenCruzPerez@njleg.org
State Senator Joseph M. “Joe” Kyrillos
Phone—Red Bank, NJ District Office: (732) 671-3206 Email: SenKyrillos@njleg.org
State Senator Steven V. Oroho
Phone—Sparta, NJ District Office: (973) 300-0200, (973) 300-1744 Phone—Allamuchy, NJ District Office: (908) 441-6343 Email: SenOroho@njleg.org
State Senator Jim Whelan
Phone—Northfield, NJ District Office: (609) 383-1388 Email: SenWhelan@njleg.org
You may also contact the Senate Economic Growth Committee aides with your concerns and request for opposition. The aide for Democratic members (Lesniak, Cruz-Perez, and Whelan) is Alison Accettola—(609) 847-3700, AAccettola@njleg.org. The aide for Republican members (Kyrillos and Oroho) is Laurine Purola—(609) 847-3600, LPurola@njleg.org. For email communications, please CC New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney — SenSweeney@njleg.org.
The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will provide additional updates as developments warrant. For more information on SB 63, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or email email@example.com; or the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs at firstname.lastname@example.org.