On July 1, 2018,  bill S2820 was introduced in the New Jersey Senate that would direct the NJ Department of Health to “adopt dog breeding standards; prohibit . . . dog breeding without {a] USDA license; and [require] compliance with DOH standards.”

Notably, there is no sister bill, and because of the fatal flaws in the bill, described in part below, it will hopefully be fated for a timely death to join other similarly flawed bills.

The most egregious flaw with this bill is the provision that would make it “unlawful to breed any dog . . . without the appropriate, current United States Department of Agriculture license for the breeding of a dog required pursuant to the federal ‘Animal Welfare Act,’ 7 U.S.C. s. 2131 et seq. . . . “

A USDA license for a dog breeder is only available for a breeder who qualifies for such as license, which is currently limited to a breeder with more than four breeding females.  Voluntary licensure for dog breeders with four or fewer breeding females is not available.  Congress, through the Animal Welfare Act, identified dog breeding as a commercial enterprise that effects interstate commerce whether conducted solely in state or out of state, and therefore required federal oversight.  As expressly state in the Congressional Statement of Policy:

The Congress finds that animals and activities which are regulated under this chapter are either in interstate or foreign commerce or substantially affect such commerce or the free flow thereof, and that regulation of animals and activities as provided in this chapter is necessary to prevent and eliminate burdens upon such commerce and to effectively regulate such commerce, in order—

(1) to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities or for exhibition purposes or for use as pets are provided humane care and treatment;

(2) to assure the humane treatment of animals during transportation in commerce; and

(3) to protect the owners of animals from the theft of their animals by preventing the sale or use of animals which have been stolen.

7 U.S.C. §2131

The interstate pet market, as identified in the Animal Welfare Act, includes dealers who are breeders, wholesalers (middlemen), retail pet stores, some of which are exempted from licensure because USDA has determined that they do not require oversight through licensing since either the public sees the animals directly (pet stores and shelters who sell face to face) or they exceed the care required without licensing (breeders with 4 or fewer females).

Any State (or a political subdivision of such State) may promulgate standards in addition to those standards promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (1) of Section 2143 of the AWA, which states “the Secretary shall promulgate standards to govern the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals by dealers, research facilities, and exhibitors.”  But, a State cannot simply ban dog breeders who do not qualify for licensure under the AWA.

The other blatant error in this proposed bill is dog breeding is already regulated by the DOH in New Jersey.  N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.1 defines “kennel” as “any establishment wherein or whereon the business of boarding or selling dogs or breeding dogs for sale is carried on except a pet shop (emphasis added).

“Any person who keeps or operates or proposes to establish a kennel, a pet shop, a shelter or a pound shall apply to the clerk or other official designated to license dogs in the municipality where such establishment is located, for a license entitling him to keep or operate such establishment.”  N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.5.

There are additional statutory and regulatory requirements for such kennels, enforced by the local health department, the DOH, and the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  See, e.g., Requirements for Disease Control and Health Care Programs for New Jersey Kennels, Pet Shops, Pounds and Shelters, May 2016; see also, N.J.A.C. §§8:23A-1.1 -1.13 (Animal Facility Operation)

Therefore, the requirement for DOH to “develop standards for the appropriate breeding of dogs in commercial and residential settings” is superfluous, unnecessary and redundant.