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Industry Insights

Pet store owners: Why Trenton bill will hurt business


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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An anonymous reader March 22, 2017 7:35 pm

Furrylicious is a fraud. They get puppies from some of the worst breeders . Ones who keep their dogs in filth with rotted teeth and no vet care. The owner is disgusting.

Jen March 22, 2017 7:44 pm

Cindy Knowles your a disgrace and a fraud. I saw online a list of the breeders Furrylicious uses. The dogs were kept in horrific abusive conditions. Filthy small wire conditions. Dogs soaked in urine and feces. Dogs denied vet care with massive injuries like a broken jaw and rotted teeth. Numerous violations. You call that "the best regulation". You think your "well versed". Your a pathetic liar . You only care about the easy money you make off the backs of suffering animals. Spare us your bull. Your reputation Cruella Deville fits you very well.

Randy H March 10, 2017 1:52 pm

Passing the ban on the sale of puppies from an ethically run pet store will not shut down a single puppy mill. In fact it will have just the opposite affect. It will force consumers to buy puppies over the internet from unlicensed unregulated breeders who evade all state and federal regulations. This is the US and people have aright to chose where they get get their Pet from. Small businesses have the right to prosper and succeed without government interference.

Cindy Knowles March 10, 2017 2:05 pm

Yes, it just doesn't end and makes no sense when NJ already has the best regulation in the Country. Sitting through, and testifying in person, it was very disheartening to see Senator Lesniak not even know what was in his own Bill. Again, since its changed more than 7 times since first written its no wonder. In my prior business I sold technology to the State of NJ. I am well versed as to what it takes to get any IT System implemented at the State Level. Months, if not years, of appropriations, bid processes, beta, production implementation and testing and finally a go live on a system. For Senator Lesniak to tell me during testimony he could get such a system up in Consumer Affairs in a day is just more non-sense. However, that's the least of the States concerns though. If the Federal Gov't made their move to take private data down, the State certainly should not be putting up a system. The taxpayers will have to bear the cost of the system, and worse the cost of the lawsuits to follow.

Janice Fisher March 19, 2017 4:00 pm

Once again, the pet store industry is spewing HYPE. Please read the bill. Hobby breeders breed their own animals, sell directly to the public and the vast majority, if not all, do not require a USDA license. As such, they are EXEMPT from the requirements of this bill with ONE exception: provide the Division of Consumer Affairs with the # of puppies sold each year - hardly a burden. As for consumers not being able to buy a dog or cat of their choice? More HYPE. Even if all 29 pet stores closed, there are a myriad of RESPONSIBLE breeders to choose from where you can meet the puppy, the puppy's parents, the breeder and see the breeding facility - the preferred way to buy a puppy. As for the # of jobs that can potentially be lost? HYPE again. These small stores don't employ many people but assuming they did: all the pet stores have to do is adhere to the law by sourcing puppies from breeders with no prohibited violations in NJ. (Something they have, for the most part, FAILED to do this past two years. Think about it... Why are we legislating transparency and penalties in the first place? Because for years this industry has refused to be transparent with consumers as a matter of good business practice. This industry knows that the "jig is up." They were caught with their pants down in September 2016 when their breeder inspection reports were retrieved from the USDA and made public. HEY PET STORES: Adhere to the law and, when you tell your customers that your breeders are "super responsible," make sure there are no USDA inspection reports that say otherwise.

Janice Fisher March 19, 2017 4:15 pm

More HYPE from the pet store industry. Inaccuracies as to the claim that NJ hobby breeders are not exempt. Hobby breeders breed their own animals, sell directly to the consumer, and they do not require a USDA license, therefore, they are EXEMPT from the bill requirements with ONE EXCEPTION: If they sell 10 or more dogs per year, they must report the # of dogs sold to the Division of Consumer Affairs. PERIOD! As for consumers not having the choice of buying a certain breed, even if all 29 pet stores closed, there are a myriad of responsible breeders to choose from where you meet the puppy, the puppy's parents, the breeder and see the breeding facility. As for many employees losing their jobs if these stores were to close? These businesses are relatively small and they don't employ that many people. P.S. Pet stores...adhere to the law - buy from breeders with no prohibited AWA violations - and you won't have to put people out of work. The "jig is up" and the pet store industry knows this: legislated transparency (which pet stores didn't want) was the best thing that happened in NJ. We can now out these stores that are still buying from breeders with USDA violations. Too bad for the stores but good for the customers. More stringent penalties for violations are necessary much like legislating transparency was.

Dave Fisher March 19, 2017 2:45 pm

What a joke this bunch of pet store owners are. All have bought from puppy mills cited by the USDA as having serious violations. All failed miserably to comply with updated Pet Purchase Protection Act two years ago. Except for Furrylicious, all were fined by the State Division of Consumer Affairs. They can't be trusted!