Shamong Township introduced Ordinance 2018-11, governing dog ownership, on October 2, 2018, which passed by the Township Committee on a first reading of the ordinance.  A public hearing is scheduled on November 7, 2018.

The Ordinance would require annual registration and inspection of “[a]ny property owner, occupant or tenant in Shamong Township having fifteen (15) or more adult dogs, defined as six months old or older, in their possession, licensed in their name, or housed on their property.”

The Ordinance would limit the number of dogs to “no more than a total of twenty-five (25) shall be kept, maintained or harbored at one time, for any length of time, in any residential housing unit or on its grounds or in any business establishment or on its grounds.”

Any dog owners and businesses, including shelters, pet stores, and animal rescue organizations with 15 or more dogs must also comply with the following provisions of the State regulation governing animal facility operations, N.J.A.C. 8:23A:  Section 1.2 (Compliance), Section 1.3 (Facilities-general), Section 1.4 (Facilities-indoor), Section 1.5 (Facilities-outdoor), Section 1.6 (Primary enclosures), 1.7 (Feeding and watering), Section 1.8 (Sanitation), Section 1.9 (Disease control), Section 1.10 (Holding and receiving of animals), Section 1.11 (Euthanasia), Section 1.12 (Transportation), and Section 1.13 (Records and administration).

Pet stores, shelters and kennels are already required to comply with these provisions, but animal rescue organizations and individual dog owners are not.  Doggy-day care operations that may believe they are are not “kennels” would also have to comply if housing more than 15 dogs.  Some of those provisions that could be difficult for individuals to comply with include:

Facilities not receiving water from a municipal water supply system shall test their water annually.  Test results must be sent to the local health department and kept on file.

Interior building surfaces of indoor housing facilities shall be constructed and maintained so that the are impervious to moisture and may be readily cleaned.  ‘“Impervious surface’ means a surface that does not permit the absorption of fluids.  Such surfaces are those that can be thoroughly and repeatedly cleaned and disinfected, which will not retain odors, and from which fluids bead up and run off or can be removed without being absorbed into the surface material.”  This grossly limits the type of indoor housing that can be provided.

A separate isolation room is required to house dogs showing signs of contagious illness.

In facilities constructed or renovated after January 17, 1995, the isolation area shall be a separate room (with ceiling to floor walls and door) from the holding area of the general animal population, not to be used for any purposes other than the segregation of animals with signs of communicable disease.  N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9(g).

In facilities constructed or renovated after January 17, 1995, the isolation area shall have an exhaust fan or system which creates air movement from the isolation area to an area outside the premises of the facility.  N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9(h).

Grid-type flooring permitted under the State regulations would be prohibited by the Ordinance.

Each facility shall have a supervising veterinarian who shall annually sign and date a form provided the the State indicating that the facility has a program of disease control and health care.

Each facility and property owner shall keep and maintain records on the property for 12 months after the date an animal is euthanized or removed from the establishment and must include the following information:

Date each animal was received;

Description of each animal;

License number of each animal;

Breed, age and sex of each animal;

Name and address of person from whom the animal was acquire;

Date and method used to euthanize the animal; and

Name and address of person to whom the animal was sold or otherwise transferred.

The Ordinance would also require “[e]ach registrant . . . [to] keep a record of the veterinarian treatments performed on each dog for at least three years.”

The Ordinance requires medications provided to dogs “to prevent infestation by intestinal parasites.”  This is an unobtainable requirement.  Instead, the Ordinance should require medication to minimize and treat infestation by intestinal parasites.

Anyone in the State or beyond concerned about these provisions should attend and testify at the hearing on November 7, 2018 in Shamong Township.  As we have seen, laws governing animals and related businesses are often introduced in multiple jurisdictions once successfully adopted.

NYC Council is at it again.

This time, they are considering an ordinance that will ‘prohibit the display or exhibition of many wild or exotic animals, with exceptions for accredited zoos, research facilities, religious ceremonies or celebrations, and educational or conservation-related programs or presentations.”

Clearly, the ordinance, if passed, would shutter all circuses that include exhibitions of wild or exotic animals, but it could also prohibit television programs filmed in NYC that display these animals.

As reported by Verena Dobnik, Associated Press, on Oct. 13, 5:22 pm at abcnew.go.com.

The New York legislation was first introduced about a decade ago by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, a Manhattan Democrat. Another Manhattan Democrat, Councilman Corey Johnson, recently joined in, saying that “trucking wild animals in and out of the city strictly for entertainment purposes is not a humane way to be treating them.”

A hearing on the proposed ordinance (Int. No. 1233) will be held by the Council’s Committee on Health on Oct. 20. Councilman Johnson serves as the Chairman of that committee.

Notably, Johnson was co-sponsor of the pet store sourcing ban that has been discussed numerous times, including recent blogs: Pet Stores Under Attack-Mandatory Sterilization Preempted by State Law ; Pet Stores Under Attack-Pet stores do not contribute to local overpopulation ; Pet stores under attack-sourcing bans violate the Supremacy Clause ; Pet Stores Under Attack-Continued: Shelters, Rescues and Pet Stores sell the same product – dogs and cats ; Pet Stores Under Attack-Continued: The New York City Pet Store Law Violates the Commerce Clause ; Pet Stores Under Attack.

Not surprisingly, the animal rights “nonprofits” NYCLASS and HSUS support the ban.

Circuses and related associations, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Circus Fans Association of America (CFAA), are opposed to the ban. As Feld Entertainment (parent of Ringling Bros.) explains on their website:

Through the circus, every year hundreds of thousands of children are exposed to magical experiences with lions, camels, and other exotic animals like nowhere else. Help us stop this bill and save the circus for generations of families to come. Don’t let animal extremists end a 146 year family tradition.

If you want your voice heard, you should testify at the hearing on October 20, 2016 at 10 am located at Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.

The City Law includes mandatory sterilization requirements for 8 week-old puppies and kittens who weigh at least 2 pounds.

The question is not “can the surgery be performed on a 2 pound 8 week old puppy” but rather, based on the totality of the circumstances, can the veterinarian recommend the procedure for a puppy or dog housed before and after surgery in a pet store and obtain informed consent from the animal’s owner.

For the following reasons, as NYPWA experts and NYC veterinarians testified, the answer is no—not without violating the standards of veterinary practice the State requires.

The State considers it unprofessional conduct if a veterinarian fails to obtain informed consent before proceeding with any medical care or surgery, and has disciplined veterinarians who have failed to obtain informed consent.

The State requires each pet store to designate a veterinarian to provide care to pets in the store, and to provide accepted veterinary standards of care to all pets in pet stores both pre- and post-operative.  This cannot be accomplished if a veterinarian performs the mandatory surgery because, no matter the age, there are environmental stressors in a pet store that, when added to the stress of anesthesia and surgery, will harm animals.  This is most serious for puppies whose immune systems are still developing.

The Law prohibits the transfer of ownership until after the pet is sterilized.  Therefore, the pet must return to the pet store after the surgery for post-operative care, which according to veterinarians is substandard care.

“A pet store is not a suitable environment for post-surgical recovery of baby animals.”  “Post-operative care typically provided by pet owners in their home cannot be performed in a pet store.”

Recently scientists have discovered that early gonadectomy is harmful to pets.  “Gonadectomy prior to puberty or sexual maturity may make the risks of some diseases higher in certain breeds and individuals.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Society for Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenology are opposed to mandatory sterilization laws for privately-owned pets.  Based on scientific evidence, veterinarians and specialists now recommend delaying sterilization until the first heat to prevent the harm from premature removal of endocrine glands needed for proper growth and certain metabolic disorders and cancer.

According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, “A veterinarian should make the final decision regarding acceptance of any patient for surgery . . . [t]he surgeon should use discretion regarding minimum and maximum patient age and body weight taking into account the availability of staff expertise and necessary equipment to care for patients.  Owned pets may be best served by scheduling surgery at 4 months of age or older . . . [i]n situations involving animals that will be placed for adoption, neutering is best performed prior to adoption . . . to ensure compliance.”

The interstate pet market is based on sales of puppies between 8-14 weeks of age, the time for optimal socialization with their owners.  The City’s response to professional objections to early sterilization is that the pet stores should hold onto these puppies for a longer period of time.  According to animal behavior experts “[d]elaying sales as the City has suggested traumatizes the animals [and] increases undesirable behavioral traits that are detrimental to successful lifelong pet ownership.”

For all these reasons, the City Law creates an insurmountable obstacle for pet stores and veterinarians to comply with both the State and City Law, and should be considered preempted by State law.

 

Pet stores used to be the primary source for puppies in the U.S.  That role has drastically changed-rescues and shelters are now the dominant providers of pets, replacing pet stores.  In fact, thousands of puppies are imported into the Northeast to supply the increasing demand for “rescued” pets, as promoted with million-dollar campaigns from nonprofit animal rights organizations’ intent on eliminating commercial dog breeding, hobby breeding, and sales from pet stores.

At the same time, shelters, condemned by the public for euthanizing animals are now transferring animals to other shelters and rescues to improve their euthanasia statistics.

The overpopulation of dogs in many municipalities and towns is often used as the reason that pet store sourcing bans are necessary.  However, this is a false premise.  The overpopulation of purposely-bred pets sold by pet stores has been effectively controlled for years.  For years states, particularly in the Northeast, have adopted programs to encourage responsible pet owners to spay and neuter their pets.  Most of these programs, largely focused on subsidizing these surgeries, have been effective in reducing the number of unwanted puppies in this part of the country.  Maine has had a spay/neuter program for many years called Help Fix ME, run through the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Program and intended for income-eligible individuals.  The program provides funds to reimburse veterinarians to spay/neuter cats and some breeds of dogs.  Over the years that it has been in existence this program has enabled thousands of individuals to adopt pets, have them neutered at a low cost (for a nominal co-pay), and enjoy the companionship that pet ownership can provide.

New York has a similar program―Animal Population Control Program―run for the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Animal Industry by the ASPCA.  Similar to Maine’s program, the New York State program underwrites the cost of neutering cats and dogs for income-eligible individuals.  Interestingly, eligibility requirements state that animals must not have been imported from outside the State of New York.

As spay/neuter programs succeeded, at least in the Northeast, the numbers of readily adoptable dogs at shelters, and those requiring euthanasia, was in rapid decline.  In the City, there appears to have been a similar decline, based on reports from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, demonstrating a remarkable decline in the euthanasia of unowned dogs and cats in the Shelter.  Animal Care & Control in NYC has had a significant decrease in the number of dogs housed in the shelter and an 81% decrease in the number of dogs euthanized since 2003.  According to Risa Weinstock of the Animal Care & Control Program in the City, pit bulls (which are not sold by pet stores) are the most prevalent breed in Shelters.  Weinstock testified that much of the overpopulation problem at Shelters comes from irresponsible pet ownership and breeding for profit, particularly of pit bulls which sell for over $1000 dollars per puppy adding that “[t]he majority of the dogs that we take in and the majority of our population are pit bulls and pit bull mixes . . .”

According to Tufts’ Gary Patronek – the Director of Tufts’ Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tuft’s School of Veterinary Medicine – U.S. shelters may be a victim of their own successes.  “The drive to have dogs spayed and neutered in the USA has cut down on unwanted litters.  And adoption campaigns have helped empty dog pounds . . . people who want to adopt dogs increasingly find aged dogs or undesirable breeds like pit bulls at shelters . . . In the last seven years, one organization in Puerto Rico has shipped more than 14,000 strays to the states for adoption.”

A recent study of 18 U.S. animal shelters to identify “the types of dogs present in today’s animal shelters,” confirms that the population of dogs in shelters are not purebred dogs from the pet stores.  The National Animal Interest Alliance found:

According to this study, the number of purebreds in U.S. animal shelters is closer to 5% (5.04%) than to the 25% so commonly cited by national animal organizations and quoted by the media.  It is interesting to observe that the number of purebreds in shelters would be 3.3% were it not for two breeds that are overrepresented, Chihuahuas and dogs described as Pit Bulls. Together, these two breeds account for 35% of all purebreds listed by shelters in this study. The public seems to be aware that dogs described as Pit Bulls are overrepresented in American shelters. What is not well known is that Chihuahuas are the single most numerous purebred found in shelters today. Because Chihuahuas are small, attractive to adopters and highly adoptable, their numbers are especially high in shelters that import dogs for adoption.

It is clear that blaming pet stores on the overpopulation of unowned, stray dogs is yet another example of the intentional misrepresentation of facts used by retail rescue organizations and law makers to support pet store sourcing bans.  If cities like New York are concerned about the number of dogs in its shelters, they should ban the importation of the thousands of dogs imported through retail rescue channels that are most likely to end up in animal shelters.

 

The interstate pet market has been targeted for decades by NGO’s intent on eliminating purposely-bred pets and replacing them with randomly-sourced and irresponsibly-bred pets sold through rescue and shelter channels. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) more than “140 jurisdictions nationwide” have recently passed pet store sourcing limitations or bans, with 35 local bans passed in the first five months of 2016 alone.  The patchwork of ordinances affecting retail pet stores and their sources are decimating the interstate pet market and create an impermissible obstacle to the mechanisms USDA has adopted to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  These ordinances, therefore, violate the Supremacy Clause and are preempted by the AWA.

 

There are two ways a local jurisdiction can adopt laws governing the pet market without running afoul of the Supremacy Clause.

  1. Local jurisdictions may require pet dealers, including Class B licensees and USDA exempt breeders to be licensed and comply with standards in addition to those prescribed in 7 U.S.C. § 2143(a)(8)(1); or
  2. Local jurisdiction may protect their citizens against dangerous animals, infectious diseases, or other hazards to public health.

The pet store sourcing bans do neither. The sourcing bans do not require additional humane standards of care by market participants—they simply ban sales from certain (licensed) sources in favor of unlicensed, randomly sourced pets, without regard to any requirements relating to animal care or welfare. The sourcing bans are also unrelated to public health or safety concerns that would be defensible under police powers.  Banning sales of puppies from licensed or exempt sources and limiting or favoring sales from rescue channels does not protect local consumers from health or safety risks—in fact, it increases the risk of importation of infectious diseases and parasites.

 

These sourcing bans are a significant hindrance to the mechanism Congress established in the AWA to ensure that animals in interstate commerce are treated humanely. The interstate pet market includes breeders, wholesalers, and retailers.  Some of these entities, like retail pet stores that sell face-to-face or breeders with four or fewer breeding females are exempt from licensure under the AWA, but they are nevertheless part of the interstate market.  The public lacks an understanding of the depth and breathe of the interstate pet market, and the comprehensive licensing scheme USDA has deployed to enforce the AWA.

 

A state law is preempted if it “‘stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.” Int’l Paper Co. v. Ouellette, 479 U.S. 481, 492 (1987).  The Supreme Court’s obstacle preemption analysis in Geir is instructive here. The Court found that a state law that would have required manufacturers of all Honda Accord and similar cars to specifically install airbags which the Court held “would have stood ‘as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of’ the important means-related federal objectives” set forth in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and was therefore preempted. Geir v. Am. Honda Motor Co., Inc., 529 U.S. 861, 881 (2000).

 

Here, Congress and USDA, through the AWA, identifies specific classes of licenses and requires pet dealers to qualify for and maintain humane standards of care to be federally licensed, unless they have specifically exempted certain breeders from licensure because they already provide such care. By banning sales from these entities without regard to the care they provide their animals, the sourcing bans interfere with this specific method Congress has established.

 

Despite the fact that the sourcing bans do not require more rigorous standards of care than required in the AWA and by the USDA, NGO’s have succeeded in convincing legislators and the public that these sourcing bans are needed because the standards of care enforced by USDA do not provide “humane” standards of care, and even if they did, that USDA has “allegedly” proven it is unable to enforce those standards. While local jurisdictions may require standards of care that exceed those mandated by the AWA (which they have not done), they cannot redefine what qualifies as “humane standards of care.”  Congress has not amended the AWA to strip USDA of its authority or declare the standards deficient even though it has had ample opportunity to do so.

 

Further, the national patchwork of sourcing bans conflict with each other and the AWA and is precisely the situation the Supremacy Clause was established to avoid. See, e.g., Darling v. Mobil Oil Corp., 864 F.2d 981, 984 (2d Cir. 1989) (establishing a “single, uniform set of rules to regulate the grounds for termination and nonrenewal and eliminate the uneven patchwork of rules governing franchise relationships which differ from State to State.”) (internal quotation omitted); Paneccasio v. Unisource Worldwide, Inc., 532 F.3d 101, 113 (2d Cir. 2008) (rejecting “a patchwork scheme of regulation [that] would introduce considerable inefficiencies”) (internal quotation omitted).  If such laws are not enjoined they will cumulatively render the federal law superfluous to the local sales bans or, at best, be subject to a labyrinthine patchwork of local regulation.

 

For example, pet stores in many localities, like Albuquerque, N.M., are not permitted to sell dogs or cats. Albuquerque, N.M. City Ordinance§ 9-2-3-12.  In Sunrise, Florida pet stores can only purchase from shelters, rescues, or “hobby breeders” who are limited to producing one litter per year per breeding dog (male or female). Maryeli’s Lovely Pets, Inc. v. City of Sunrise, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98451, at *2-*3 (S.D.Fl. June 24, 2015).  In Cook County, Illinois “a ‘pet shop operator’ may only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) holds a USDA class ‘A’ license and ‘owns or possesses no more than 5 female dogs, cats or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period.” Mo. Pet Breeders Ass’n v. Cnty of Cook, No. 14-06930, 2015 WL 2448332, at *1 (N.D.Ill. May 21, 2015), appeal docketed, No. 15-2895 (7th Cir. Sept. 3, 2015).  In New York City, pet stores can only purchase from Class A breeders—pet stores are expressly prohibited from purchasing from Class B dealers.

 

To support these allegations, the NGO’s: (1) raise the specter that pet stores’ sources are puppy mills based only on noncompliant citations on USDA’s inspection reports which they misrepresent as violations of the AWA; and (2) claim USDA fails to properly enforce the AWA as determined by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General’s 2010 report, “Inspections of Problematic Breeders.” NGO’s also mischaracterize brokers and distributors as “evil middlemen,” despite the fact that federal law permits intermediaries to participate in the interstate commerce of pets, by establishing a separate classification for these market participants (Class B license).  All these conclusions are based on NGO “investigations” even though no one other than USDA is authorized to inspect USDA licensees or reclassify Class B licensees or USDA exempt breeders as pet dealers who provide inhumane care.

 

States and local governments may create and enforce their own laws and regulations to protect animals, which may exceed the AWA standards, but they cannot adopt laws with the intent and effect to exclude legitimate, licensed or exempt pet dealers from selling healthy, domestic (not wild or inherently dangerous) pets to pet stores, as the AWA has contemplated and permitted. Laws can be adopted to prohibit the sales of all pets or particular types of pets (like ferrets) if they are considered dangerous or even too expensive for local governments to regulate, but this is not what the sourcing bans have done.

 

The effect of these sourcing bans since their initial adoption in 2006 has resulted in a quantitative effect on the entire pet industry, resulting in 3,488 fewer Class A licensees and 1478 fewer Class B licensees nationwide—a 75% and 85% drop respectively. Imagine the impact to biomedical research if similar ordinances were passed that banned continued research based on noncompliant items on USDA inspection reports and NGO’s contention that animal use in research is inhumane?  For example, New Jersey’s pet sourcing bans prohibit sales to pet stores from a licensee who has been cited on a USDA inspection report for: (1) a direct violation of the AWA during the prior 2 years; (2) 3 or more indirect violations of the AWA during the prior 2 years; or (3) a no-access violation of the AWA on the 2 most recent inspection reports.  Despite the fact that the licensees have not been “finally determined” to have violated the AWA, pet stores may not purchase from these licensees.  If similar restrictions were applied to biomedical research facilities, most research involving animal testing would cease.

Shelters, Rescues, and pet stores all provide pets for consumers. The transfer of ownership is the same, whether described as an “adoption” or “sale.” Both the federal and state governments consider the transfer of ownership from these entities to be equivalent. The transfer of money for these pets is considered remuneration, whether based on a sale, adoption fee or donation. USDA “consider[s] acts of compensation to include any remuneration for the animals, regardless of whether it is for profit or not for profit.” The critical question is whether the comparators serve the same market, not whether the articles of commerce are identical.

Pet stores, shelters and rescues are all considered “pet dealers” as defined by Congress in the AWA and USDA. A pet dealer is “any person who, in commerce for compensation or profit delivers for transportation . . . buys, sells or negotiates the purchase or sale of any dog or other animal . . . for use as a pet.”

The legislative history of the AWA makes clear that this definition was “intended to include nonprofit or charitable institutions which handles dogs and cats” and that the definition of “dealer” was “not intended to exclude from licensing or regulation those nonprofit or charitable institutions or animal shelters which supply animals in commerce to research facilities for compensation of their out-of-pocket expenses.”

Importantly, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, has been functioning as an unlicensed USDA Class B dealer by transferring animals from the City’s Shelters to more than 140 partner Rescues in a program called the New Hope Transfer Program. Alliance President “Hoffman said she thinks of the Transfer Program as a giant distribution network with AC&C as the ‘wholesaler’ and the partner organizations as ‘retailers’ who get the animals face-to-face with the public.”

Like pet stores, rescues and some shelters import dogs into the Northeast for sale/adoption, similar to the business model of a pet store. The biggest difference between pet stores, rescues and shelters is that pet stores and their sources are highly regulated and shelters and rescues are not.

The explosion of interstate and international transportation of dogs and cats through rescue channels, largely unregulated, exposes humans and animals alike to infectious, contagious diseases and parasites. As a result, state animal health officials adopted or amended state laws to regulate animal transfers from shelters and rescues in similar or more stringent ways than sales from pet stores. USDA and CDC have also issued alerts and amended regulations to prevent disease spread from pets imported from other countries for sale in rescue channels in the U.S.

One of the most profitable shelters/rescues in the NYC area, the North Shore Animal League (NSAL), advertises that they sell dogs and cats throughout the City, which they regularly obtain from substandard breeders throughout the country. According to their website, they “reach across the country to rescue animals from overcrowded shelters, unwanted litters, puppy mills, natural disasters and other emergencies and find them permanent, loving homes.”

NSAL rescued at least 3,562 pets from 13 states and Puerto Rico from December, 2010 until December, 2014. This is a highly lucrative business. In Fiscal Year 2013, NSAL reported: total revenues of $35,655,064, with $1,524,982 for its Pet Rescue and Adoption; compensation of current officers, directors and key employees totaling $1,611,478; and payment of other salaries and wages totaling $10,210,036. NSAL also reports that it contracts with other rescues and shelters, obtaining and importing pets for adoption from other states to the State and City.

For example, Precious Friends, a shelter in Tennessee contracts with NSAL to “take [animals] from shelters located in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Indiana” and send them to NSAL.

More recently, NSAL has advertised to purchase puppies from any source for resale.

 

At its core, the Law is an attempt at economic protectionism of the City’s favored source of pets, animal shelters and rescues, who are expressly exempted from the Laws’ sourcing restrictions and mandatory sterilization requirements for pet stores, and discriminates against articles of commerce (puppies) coming from other states based simply on their origin from Class B licensees. See Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617, 626-627 (1978)

This law does not protect the public health or welfare, an oft-cited defense used by cities like New York in response to constitutional challenges that the laws violate the Commerce Clause.

If the City wanted to ban the importation of puppies to protect human or animal health, it could do so by banning the importation of all puppies from any source. Instead it has, in practical effect, banned the importation of the highly regulated, inspected, purposely bred and humanely raised healthy puppies from Class B licensees to pet stores, and favors the importation of dogs known to have the highest incidence of infectious diseases, behavioral and physical disorders from retail rescue channels.

The City said the Law is needed to prevent the sale of puppies from puppy mills, where they claim pet stores obtain their puppies. First, pet stores do not buy from substandard, large commercial breeders, known as “puppy mills.” NYC pet stores buy their puppies from either USDA licensed breeders with 5 or more females that have not been finally determined to have violated the Animal Welfare Act or breeders with 4 or fewer females whom USDA has determined do not have to be licensed because they exceed humane standards of care. These purchases are commonly made with the assistance of Class B dealers who serve as the wholesalers, or middlemen of the interstate pet market. Since the Law bans sales from Class B dealers to pet stores, it creates an impermissible burden to interstate commerce.

The Law discriminates against the sources NYC pet stores rely upon (Class B’s and their sources) who are out of state and favors the in state rescues and shelters who obtain their animals from unlicensed sources.

Further, the burden imposed on interstate commerce is quantitatively and qualitatively different from that imposed on intrastate commerce, a critical element in commerce clause analysis. National Electrical Manufacturers Ass’n. v. Sorrell, 272 F.3d 104, 109 (2nd Cir. 2001) The Law forces the entire regulated interstate pet market to change their marketing practices, but does not require NYC’s shelters and rescues to make any changes.

This Law, along with the 140 other pet store sourcing bans that HSUS says have been passed throughout the country, has already impacted the interstate pet market.

For example, the USDA-estimated there are between 5,800-10,360 exempt breeders throughout the country, will be unable to sell to pet stores in the City. For these breeders to sell to pet stores in the City, they will have to add breeding females and become Class A licensed breeders.

From 2008 to 2014 the number of Class A breeders decreased by 75%, in large part as a result of pet store sourcing bans. Class A breeders will have to add staff and marketing efforts that they currently rely on Class B dealers to provide. Many Class A breeders cannot expand their businesses, and therefore will be unable to sell to NYC pet stores.

From 2008 to 2014 Class B pet dealers decreased by 85%, in large part as a result of pet store sourcing bans. The City bans Class B sales to pet stores entirely. Because the New York City market is the largest pet market in the country, the impact of this Law to the interstate market will be significant.

 

The management of feral cat colonies is extremely controversial.

On one hand there are people and nonprofits who are vehemently protective of these colonies, feeding and caring for these homeless animals.  On the other hand, there are concerns about the impact these colonies have on local wildlife and concerns about the diseases and parasites these animals can transmit to other animals and humans.

In Illinois, where legislators have identified these concern, a recently introduced bill SJR 53

would create the Feral Cat Task Force to examine the Animal Control Act, the Humane Care for Animals Act, the Animal Welfare Act, and any other relevant statutory provisions and make comprehensive written recommendations for change.

The 18-member task force will have quite a task sorting out this highly controversial issue.

As reported by the National Geographic News (from a 2004 report):

Some feline experts now estimate 70 million feral cats live in the United States, the consequence of little effort to control the population and of the cat’s ability to reproduce quickly.

The number concerns wildlife and ornithology organizations that believe these stealthy predators decimate bird populations and threaten public health. The organizations want the cats removed from the environment and taken to animal shelters, where they are often killed.

Feline predators are believed to prey on common species, such as cardinals, blue jays, and house wrens, as well as rare and endangered species, such as piping plovers and Florida scrub jays.

Cats, like other mammals can spread disease and parasites, facts that have been used in support of laws adopted by local jurisdictions to limit or eliminate feral cat colonies.

On its website, the CDC lists “[t]he most common diseases associated with cats that can cause human illness”[1] including: Campylobacteriosis; Cat-scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae); Cheyletiellosis; Cryptosporidiosis; Echinococcosis; Giardia; hookworms; MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus); Pasteurellosis; Plague (Yersinia pestis); Rabies; Ringworm (Microsporum canis); Roundworm (Toxocara spp.); Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp.); Sporotrichosis (Sporothrix schenckii); Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii).

 

The AVMA recently revised its policy on “free-roaming and abandoned feral cats,” a process it described as:

the culmination of more than two years’ work by the Animal Welfare Committee, which is comprised of veterinarians and others representing expertise and a wide range of perspectives regarding animal welfare. Although the Animal Welfare Committee includes among its members representatives from the feline, avian, and wildlife veterinary communities, it did not tackle this question alone, but instead asked the Committee on Environmental Issues and the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine to assist with its review. Recognizing that feral cat management is a highly controversial issue, the group revised the policy to reflect new information, help build consensus, and provide leadership per the management of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats.

In New Jersey, the Department of Health “does not endorse or oppose the concept of establishing properly managed cat colonies utilizing trap-neuter-return (TNR) techniques.”

However, if a municipality wishes to allow cat colonies, they should develop standards through ordinances for the proper and managed operation of such colonies, based on the guidelines below, that would provide accountability and oversight by the health officer and animal control officer.

There remains a large overpopulation of cats, unlike dogs, in New Jersey and other Northeastern States, who comprise the greatest percentage of animal shelter residents, contributing to increasing costs to care for these animals.

[1] For a description of these diseases, click here or visit the CDC website.

Rhode Island already has one bill in the hopper (H7414) that was previously discussed.

Now there is another bill in Rhode Island (S2843) that would require registration for 15 years for any “person over eighteen (18) years of age who has been convicted of an offense defined as a felony in [Rhode Island] or in the comparable laws of another state.”

If you have been convicted of such an offense and reside in Rhode Island for more than ten consecutive days, you are required to register, or face fines and jail time.

The registrant’s name, address, place of appointment, offense for which they were convicted and other information is provided to the state attorney general and every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the individual’s residence or location.

Additionally, the public will be able to obtain access to the registry through the internet.

Tennessee is the only state with a statewide animal abuse registry.  There are a number of cities and counties with registries, but I am unaware of the total number of such registries in the country.

There are now over 20 proposed bills across the country that would establish state animal abuse registries.

Of particular concern are those bills that require anyone convicted of or found liable for any violation of an act of animal cruelty, criminal or civil, to be included on a registry that in some states prohibits an individual from owning or working with animals.

A summary of the introduced bills, taken in part by information compiled by the AVMA, is included below.

  State Bill Number Description
1. Illinois HB 5005 Requires the Department of Agriculture to create and maintain an animal-abuse registry. Any person 18 years of age or older that has been convicted of cruel treatment, aggravated cruelty, or animal torture would be required to register.
2. Illinois SB 3127 Establishes an animal abuse registry
3. Maryland SB 722 Increases the penalties for specified crimes related to animals; authorizing a court, as a condition of probation, to prohibit a specified defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal; would require as a condition of probation the court to prohibit a specified defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal; would require a veterinarian who has reason to believe that an animal that has been treated by the veterinarian has been subjected to abuse or neglect to make a specified report; etc.
4. Minnesota HF 2711 Animal abuser registry established, public safety commissioner required to post identifying information on the commissioner’s website, and money appropriated
5. Missouri HB 1707 Establishes animal abuse registry.
6. New York AB 2484/SB 2935 Establishes a public registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.
7. New Jersey S 145 Prohibits persons violating animal cruelty law from owning, keeping, or harboring animals; would require DHSS to establish and maintain website list of such persons.
8. New Jersey S 213 Establishes NJ Animal Abuser Registry.
9. New Jersey S 462 Establishes Animal Cruelty Offender Registry; prohibits purchase, adoption, and breeding of animals by animal cruelty offenders.
10. New Jersey A 308 Prohibits people convicted of criminal animal-cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related organizations.
11. New Jersey A 832 Provides for the establishment of an animal-cruelty offender registry that would require the registration of animal cruelty offenders and allow for the public disclosure of certain information pertaining to those offenders.
12. New Jersey A 1397 Prohibits any person found guilty of, or liable for, a violation animal-cruelty laws from owning, keeping, or harboring an animal. The bill prohibits any such person from licensing or registering a dog or cat, or from being an animal-control officer. The bill also provides for the seizure and confiscation of animals from people convicted of, or liable for, a violation of the animal cruelty laws. A list of such violators would be available on a state website and communicated to kennels, shelters, pounds and pet shops.
13. New Jersey A 2041 Authorizes a court, upon finding a person guilty of abusing an animal or violating the state animal-cruelty laws, to issue an animal-protection order against the person adjudged guilty. The animal-protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court, and may apply to a specific animal with which the adjudged person has contact, or to any other animal.
14. New Jersey S 1477 Prohibits animal cruelty violators from working at, or owning or operating, an animal-related enterprise; designated as “Moose’s Law.”
15. New York AB 1600/SB 3030 Prohibits a person convicted of “Buster’s Law” from owning or possessing a companion animal unless authorized by court order, after appropriate psychiatric or psychological testing.
16. New York AB 343 Creates a crime database of all convictions in New York state of animal cruelty, fighting, neglect, abandonment and mistreatment; and makes such crime database available to law-enforcement entities, humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, dog or cat protective associations and animal-control officers.
17. New York SB 6812 Creates a crime database of all convictions in New York state of animal cruelty, fighting, neglect, abandonment and mistreatment; makes such crime database available to all law enforcement entities, district attorneys, duly incorporated humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, dog or cat protective associations and animal control officers
18. Pennsylvania HB 351/SB 527 Creates an animal abuser registry.
19. Rhode Island H 7414 Creates the “Animal Abuser Registry Act” which would require all persons convicted of animal abuse to register with an on-line registry to be established and maintained by the attorney general’s office.
20. Rhode Island S2843 Requires registration for 15 years for any “person over eighteen (18) years of age who has been convicted of an offense defined as a felony in [Rhode Island] or in the comparable laws of another state.” The registrant’s name, address, place of appointment, offense for which they were convicted and other information is provided to the state attorney general and every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the individual’s residence or location.
21. South Carolina  

 

 

 

 

H 5079

Establishes registry of any person over eighteen convicted of a felony violation of any provision of this State designed to protect animals from abuse, and sheriff’s within ten days of receiving initial registration information from an animal abuser, the county sheriff shall contact every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the animal abuser’s residence or location and provide them with the animal abuser’s registration information, with the exception of his social security number.
22. Washington SB 6234 Directs the state attorney general’s office to maintain a registry of people convicted of animal-abuse offenses, and to make the registry public available on the Internet.
23. West Virginia HB 2618 Establishes a West Virginia Animal Abuse Registry requiring registration of persons convicted of certain crimes of animal abuse. The public registry would have a mandatory registration fee for offenders and breeders, shelters and pet shops would be required to consult the registry before adopting out or selling an animal.

 

 

 

First published on April 3, 2016, 10:27 p.m. MST, at http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2016/04/04/puppy-mill-sb1248/82532418/

Republished with permission.

My Turn: No one wants inhumane breeders to flourish. But puppy mill ordinances have unintended consequences that make matters worse.

Animal welfare is a philosophy that promotes stewardship of species and individual animals. Many of us practice this philosophy day in and day out while engaging others for the cause. Pet owners, breeders, veterinarians, pet store owners, and even Arizona’s elected officials all share one thing in common: we all want to provide humane treatment for animals.

However, when public officials consider legislation or ordinances aimed at addressing animal-welfare problems, they need complete and balanced information about the issues involved to create effective laws. Far too often, what looks good on paper creates harmful unintended consequences and far-reaching repercussions.

Pet-store bans won’t stop bad breeders

So it is with pet-store bans, the current legislative cure-all being offered to eliminate “puppy mills.” Eliminating inhumane breeders is a worthy goal everyone can embrace.

VALDEZ: Arizona bill sacrifices puppies for profit

PET SHOP OWNER: Puppy mill law won’t do what it says

The problem is, a retail pet-store ban will have no effect on the bad breeders it is trying to eradicate. Instead of eliminating them, it will drive them to Craigslist, the Internet, parking lot and flea market sales, and to retail rescues, outlets where animal care is unregulated and consumers will receive no health warranty.

History has amply demonstrated that banning anything the public wants only creates new unregulated channels of commerce.

In the same way that Prohibition created speakeasies and backwoods stills, banning pet stores will make matters worse. That is why the city council of Carlsbad, Calif., repealed its pet-retail ban a month after the law’s implementation, realizing that unscrupulous actors are the problem, not pet stores.

A better idea: Improve standards of care

Instead of passing outright bans, lawmakers need to target the unacceptable practices directly by enacting laws that require higher standards of care and increased transparency. Those who violate such laws need to be held accountable for their negligence.

Fortunately, the Arizona state Legislature is responsibly and constructively addressing these ordinances banning pet sales, which are often based on incomplete or biased information and without a thorough consideration of potential consequences.

Senate Bill 1248, which is being considered by the Legislature, would improve animal welfare by bolstering the pet industry’s standards, strengthening disclosure, and prohibiting sweeping pet-sale bans in cities.

This legislation will ensure that pet stores acquire their animals only from accountable breeders who comply with all U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. In addition, prospective buyers will be provided with the name and license number of the breeder, allowing them to see the conditions where these animals lived prior to acquisition.

Simply put, SB 1248 is a step in the right direction and its provisions will further efforts to improve animal well-being. Additionally, it will provide Arizonans more assurance when looking for a new family dog.

The National Animal Interest Alliance urges Arizona voters to contact their legislators in support of SB 1248. The alliance applauds Reps. Brenda Barton, Warren Petersen and Bob Thorpe, as well as Sens. John Kavanagh and Don Shooter for their work on this important issue.

By working together to create balanced and effective solutions, we can protect the animals we love and the citizens of Arizona.

Patti Strand is the president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an animal-welfare organization that advocates for raising standards of animal care and treatment.​ Email her at naia@naiaonline.org.
Patti Strand is the president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an animal-welfare organization that advocates for raising standards of animal care and treatment.​ Email her at naia@naiaonline.org.