New Jersey to Consider Bills Limiting Pet Choice & Consumer Protections, Other Issues on Thursday, M

The New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee is scheduled to consider three bills dealing with dogs at its next meeting on March 3, including Senate Bill 63 (consumer choice restrictions), Senate Bill 1013 (humane tethering), and Senate Bill 1640 (dogs left unattended outdoors). The New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider Assembly Concurrent Resolution 136 (encouraging consumer choice restrictions) on the same day.

Monday, February 29, 2016

On Thursday, March 3, 2016, committees of the New Jersey Legislature will consider several dog-related bills.  New Jersey residents are strongly encouraged to take action on the bills, as noted below.

Senate Economic Growth Committee

The New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee is scheduled to consider three bills dealing with dogs at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, March 3, 2016.  The bills currently on the agenda include:

Senate Bill 63 – As introduced, SB 63 seeks to repeal consumer protection laws for pet purchasers, to prohibit the sale of dogs unless the transactions are conducted face-to-face, and to require pet shops to sell dogs sourced only from shelters and pounds.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) opposes SB 63 as introduced.  

At the February 8th meeting of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, Committee Chairman and SB 63 sponsor Senate Raymond Lesniak tabled action on the bill to allow for amendments to be offered and taken.  AKC expects some changes to be made to the original version of SB 63, but that changes will likely continue to require pet stores to sell only dogs from shelters and rescues. 

To read AKC’s AKC’s February 3 alert on SB 63, click here.
To read AKC’s February 4 letter of opposition to SB 63, click here.
To read AKC’s testimony to the Senate Economic Growth Committee in opposition to SB 63, click here
To read AKC’s February 9 update on SB 63, click here

Senate Bill 1013 – This bill establishes specific requirements for tethering or confining a dog, prohibits tethering under certain circumstances, and requires the owner or other person with custody or control over the dog to provide it with continuous access to proper shelter when a dog is left outdoors for more than 30 minutes during adverse weather conditions (i.e., when temperatures are 32 degrees F or lower, or 90 degrees F or higher).  SB 1013 further prohibits tethers that use a halter or harness and tethering between 11PM and 6AM.   The bill specifically provides that such actions are not violations if the owner is outdoors with the dog.  The bill further provides procedures by which law enforcement provisions may seize a dog kept in violation of the bill.  Violations of the tethering restrictions are also added to the state’s animal cruelty statute. 

Senate Bill 1640 – This bill also makes it unlawful to leave a dog unattended outdoors when the temperature is 32 degrees F or less or 90 degrees F or higher unless it has access to a shelter.  It also makes it unlawful to leave a companion animal outdoors when the geographic area in which it is kept is under an evacuation recommendation.  In such circumstances, if an animal cannot be evacuated with its owner, the animal must be delivered to a kennel, shelter or other suitable animal care facility; or secured in a properly ventilated indoor area that will be best protective of the animal that will be reasonably safe from flooding. 

Those concerned with these legislative proposals are strongly encouraged to attend Thursday’s meeting of the Senate Economic Growth Committee and offer respectful feedback on the proposals if opportunity to do so is allowed.  The meeting is scheduled to take place at 10:30AM, in Committee Room 1 (1st floor) of the State House Annex (click here for directions)—125 W State St #2, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Concerned parties are also strongly encouraged to contact the committee members and express any concerns they have prior to Thursday’s meeting. 

State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, Committee ChairmanSenLesniak@njleg.org
State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Committee Vice ChairSenCruzPerez@njleg.org
State Senator Joseph M. “Joe” KyrillosSenKyrillos@njleg.org
State Senator Steven V. OrohoSenOroho@njleg.org
State Senator Jim WhelanSenWhelan@njleg.org

Committee Aide (Democrats) Alison AccettolaAaccettola@njleg.org 
Committee Aide (Republicans) Laurine PurolaLpurola@njleg.org  

 

Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider Assembly Concurrent Resolution 136.  The non-binding resolution encourages municipalities to require that pet shops only sell cats or dogs obtained from shelters, pounds, or animal rescue organizations, and encourages counties to enforce the requirement wherever such restrictions are adopted. 

With concerns similar to those with Senate Bill 63, the AKC is concerned that ACR 136 will dramatically reduce the ability of New Jersey residents to purchase a pet with the predictable type, mandated care, and substantiated health backgrounds that purebred pets provide. If more localities follow ACR 136 vision, pet stores will likely be limited to selling only those dogs and cats sourced from shelters, rescues, and other similar organizations. Unfortunately, many communities lack sufficient local breeders to meet the demand for the specific pets desired by local residents.  New Jersey families seeking a puppy that is a specific breed from a professional breeder subject to USDA or state animal welfare standards, or one that has traditionally been covered by New Jersey’s consumer protection laws, will likely have little other alternative than to obtain a pet of unknown background, health history or status.  When consumers cannot acquire a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, that animal is more likely to cycle in and out of the shelter system. 

A better solution is to ensure that consumers are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership, have access to a variety of pets so that they can make an educated selection for life-long success, and can avail themselves of consumer protections should they need to.

The Committee will meet at 2pm On Thursday, March 3, in Committee Rm. 15 (4th Floor) of the State House Annex in Trenton.  New Jersey residents are encouraged to attend the hearing and express their concerns. 

Concerned parties are also strongly encouraged to contact the committee members and express any concerns they have prior to Thursday’s meeting. 

Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, Committee ChairmanAsmAndrzejczak@njleg.org
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro, Committee Vice ChairAsmTaliaferro@njleg.org
Assemblyman Ronald S. DancerAsmDancer@njleg.org
Assemblyman Eric HoughtalingAsmHoughtaling@njleg.org
Assemblyman Parker SpaceAsmSpace@njleg.org

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will continue to provide updates on these bills after the Senate Economic Growth Committee meeting on Thursday, March 3.   For the latest information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org; or contact the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs