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Pet store owners: Why Trenton bill will hurt business

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For decades, responsible pet retailers and breeders have provided cats and dogs to pet lovers across New Jersey. Now, our livelihoods are at risk thanks to an ideological attack from Trenton.

For more than a year, legislators led by Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) have been trying to pass a deeply flawed bill that undermines our state’s top-notch pet and consumer protection laws. This legislation, which has changed seven times to the point where even Sen. Lesniak said recently he doesn’t know exactly what it does, is set for a vote Monday.

If the bill passes, many New Jerseyans can say goodbye to owning the cat and dog of their choice.

What’s so bad about S3041? For one thing, it has a three-strike rule that could shut down small businesses like ours for paperwork errors unrelated to animal welfare. This could cost hundreds of jobs across the state, including dozens at our stores alone. Single mothers, students saving for college and those working second jobs to make ends meet would suddenly find themselves scrambling as businesses that are proud to follow both high internal standards and New Jersey’s industry-supported Pet Purchase Protection Actare closed.

Second, legislators simply don’t know what they’re signing. As mentioned above, even the sponsor was unaware that S3041 does not fully exempt hobby breeders — people who responsibly raise a few litters in their own homes.

Third, Sen. Lesniak and the interest groups pushing this unnecessary and job-killing bill have yet to inform taxpayers how much it will cost. In addition to creating an enormous, and potentially expensive, infrastructure for oversight and enforcement across the country, this bill’s requirement that the state post information on its website may be illegal — and, thus, may open the state to lawsuits.

As responsible New Jersey small businesses, we have always worked with state legislators and regulators to do what’s best for our pets and our customers. We care about pets as much as animal activists like Sen. Lesniak, and we care for those pets each and every day. The proof is in the many pets we have placed into loving, forever homes throughout the state.

Sen. Lesniak and his fellow legislators are supposed to represent the people of the Garden State. We invite them to treat us as partners in responsible pet care, not bad actors to be guarded against. Visit the responsible breeders and pet retailers who provide pets to their family and friends, who connect prospective pet owners with their ideal companions. Witness firsthand the care we lavish upon our four-legged friends, and recognize that the best thing for New Jersey is to stop S3041 from destroying jobs and consumer choice. 

Jon Dubreuil, Shake A Paw, Green Brook
Gary Hager, Bark Avenue, Red Bank
Andy Kagan, Fashionable Pets, Paramus
Cindy Knowles, Furrylicious, Whitehouse Station
Jeff Morton, Shake A Paw, Union
Stephanie Earl, Furrylicious, Whitehouse Station

The authors are the owners and operators of independent pet stores throughout the state of New Jersey.

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