Bill would endanger small business in NJ: Pet Store owners call on Governor to veto needless legislation
By MIKE BOBER
For decades, New Jersey’s independent pet store operators have provided cats and dogs to pet lovers across New Jersey. Although highly regarded and overseen by New Jersey’s strongest-in-the-nation pet and consumer protection laws, their livelihoods are at risk thanks to an ideological attack from Trenton.
For more than a year, legislators led by Senator Ray Lesniak have been trying to pass a flawed bill that will devastate the ability of consumers to choose the best pet for their lifestyles and needs. The bill, which narrowly passed in the state legislature and now rests in the hands of Governor Christie, also risks closing small businesses across the state.
New Jersey’s responsible pet store owners respectfully ask the governor to veto this misguided legislation.
This legislation is nothing more than a blatant attempt to outlaw the sale of dogs and cats by reputable breeders and retailers, despite the fact that the Pet Purchase Protection Act (PPPA) was strengthened just two years ago to make New Jersey’s laws the most comprehensive in the nation when it comes to animal and consumer protection.
What’s more, this unnecessary legislation includes a “three strikes” provision that could permanently shut down small businesses for minor violations that have nothing to do with animal welfare or the quality of the breeders we use.
This could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs across the state. Single mothers, students saving for college, and those working second jobs to make ends meet could suddenly find themselves scrambling as businesses that adhere to both high internal standards and state law are closed.
To make matters worse, targeting responsible retailers would incentivize consumers to go to the unregulated black market, where they are far more likely to find dogs from illegal, unregulated sources – the very same unethical breeders Senator Lesniak says he wants to stop.
New Jersey’s responsible pet store owners put the welfare of pet owners and their companion animals above all else. We support legislation that prevents substandard breeders from breeding and selling unfit animals, such as the PPPA. They also share Sen. Lesniak’s concern for ensuring that all new pets purchased in New Jersey have been raised humanely and live healthy and happy lives.
But this legislation fails to advance any of those goals. It could also be costly to taxpayers, as the bill’s questionable legality could expose the state to numerous lawsuits.
Responsible retail businesses in New Jersey were eager to partner with Senator Lesniak to better protect pets, pet owners, and those who serve and support them. Yet we were treated as bad actors and kept at arm’s length throughout this process. The result is a deeply flawed bill that serves little purpose other than to put a false shine on Sen. Lesniak’s animal protection bona fides as he runs for higher office.
The reality is we care about and for the pets we sell and the people with whom we match them. We urge Governor Christie to veto this bill and encourage all parties to sit down together to find ways to truly advance animal welfare here in New Jersey.
Mike Bober is the president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents more than two dozen New Jersey pet store owners