In a stunning turn of events, Senator Lesniak, sponsor of S63, a bill in New Jersey that would have banned pet stores from purchasing from any commercial dog breeder, testified that he was refocusing the bill in a committee substitute to permit continued purchases from USDA licensees to pet stores, because these breeders were not the “puppy mills” the original bill had been targeting to eliminate.  (See testimony on June 23, 2016 at the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee starting at 3 hours 3 minutes 24 seconds (3:3:24)).

Lesniak’s original bill was based on HSUS’s standard language[1] that has been included in many ordinances passed throughout the country, despite a concerted effort by pet store owners and their legitimate, federally licensed sources, who have told legislators and town council members that their bans are missing the mark.  Instead of banning sales from USDA licensees that Lesniak has now admitted are not puppy mills, bans should be focused on large-scale unlicensed breeders who fail to provide the standards of care required by law and the public.  The latter are the actual “puppy mills” everyone agrees should be shut down.

While the committee substitute of S63 includes important amendments, more changes must be made.

Senator Lesniak agreed to make further amendments that pet store owners identified at the hearing in order to obtain yes votes from Senator Beck and Senator Pou to release the bill from committee.

Hopefully, Senator Lesniak will remain true to his word.

[1] “a significant number of puppies and kittens sold at pet shops come from large-scale commercial breeding facilities where the health and welfare of animals are not adequately provided for (“puppy mills” and “kitten mills,” respectively). According to The Humane Society of the United States, it is estimated that 10,000 puppy mills produce more than 2,400,000 puppies a year in the United States, and that most pet shops dogs and cats come from puppy mills and kitten mills” Washington Township Ordinance 013.