New Jersey: SB 63 Now SB 3041, Scheduled for Hearing on Monday, March 6

This week, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak introduced Senate Bill 3041, a cleaned-up but substantively similar version of Senate Bill 63.

This week, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak introduced Senate Bill 3041, a cleaned-up but substantively similar version of Senate Bill 63. 

SB 3041 is scheduled for consideration by the New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee, which is chaired by State Senator Lesniak, on Monday, March 6.  While the bill is expected to pass Monday’s committee hearing, it is vitally important that all concerned parties express concerns with Senate Bill 3041. 

HISTORY:  The American Kennel Club (AKC) and a broad coalition of animal welfare groups have strongly opposed SB 63 since its introduction in January 2016.  While SB 63 has been significantly amended several times since its introduction, the AKC remains deeply concerned with aspects of both bills. 

AKC’S CONCERNS WITH SB 3041/SB 63:

•    The bills continue to contain more than two pages of “findings” that assail the reputations of dog breeders with broadly-discredited conjecture, questionable statistics, and out-of-date USDA information. The use of such biased and discredited information undermines responsible owner-breeders and will likely serve as the justification for additional regressive legislation that will earn New Jersey the title of the most unfriendly state to dog owners.

The AKC believes New Jersey can do better than using biased, discredited and misleading anti-breeder language. Instead, we recommend the adoption of the following alternative preamble to fairly explain the justification for the legislation:

The legislature determines it is in the best of the state and its citizens to support consumer protections for the purchase of pets, support practices that improve the health and welfare of all pets and related public health practices, and to better monitor the sources of pets imported into and transferred to consumers in New Jersey.

•    In the most recent iteration, S3041/S36 defines anyone who sells more than ten dogs or cats over the course of a year as a “pet dealer”. The term “pet dealer” also includes pet shops, commercial kennels, and boarding kennels. It establishes protocols for enforcement by local counties and municipalities. Some of these standards include specific engineering requirements that are neither possible nor in the best interest of pets in residential settings.

Furthermore, most municipalities do not allow commercial enterprises such as animal “dealers” in residential zones. A large litter produced by someone who may breed a litter once a year or even once in a lifetime and sells the puppies may suddenly find that they are in violation of state and local zoning laws.

Therefore, we continue to recommend that the measure be clarified to express the stated intent of the sponsor that small, hobby breeders be exempt from the dealer licensing requirements. We propose that the definition of “pet dealer” specify that small, non-commercial breeders will not be considered as pet dealers; and define “small, non-commercial breeders” as a person exempt from USDA pet dealer licensing who breeds purebred cats or dogs for the purpose of improving or preserving their breeds, as working, sporting, or service animals, or for other non-commercial purposes.  

•    The current version of the legislation allows for more health and welfare violations by pet dealers than previous versions before being restricted from supplying pet dealers with animals, and extends the allotted timeline for scrutiny to three years.  We recommend the legislation revert to previous versions which differentiated between direct animal welfare violations (which impact the health and welfare of the pet) and indirect violations (which do not impact health and welfare of pets, but pertain to paperwork and similar violations), and which extended the timeline to scrutinize reports to only two years.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  It is imperative that all concerned New Jersey residents contact the members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee and express their concerns with SB 3041.  Please use the talking points above when composing your communication.  Please also cc the committee aides (listed below) and Senate President Steven Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto in your emails to the committee. 

State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, Committee Chairman (bill sponsor) – SenLesniak@njleg.org 
State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Committee Vice Chair – SenCruzPerez@njleg.org 
State Senator Joseph M. “Joe” Kyrillos – SenKyrillos@njleg.org 
State Senator Steven V. Oroho – SenOroho@njleg.org 
State Senator Jim Whelan – SenWhelan@njleg.org 

Committee Aide (Democrats) Louis Couture – Lcouture@njleg.org    
Committee Aide (Republicans) Laurine Purola – Lpurola@njleg.org   

State Senate President Steven Sweeney – SenSweeney@njleg.org 
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto – AsmPrieto@njleg.org 

Concerned residents are also encouraged to attend Monday’s Senate Economic Growth Committee hearing and express opposition to SB 3041.  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 1030AM in Committee Room 1, 1st floor, State House Annex, 125 W State St #2, Trenton, NJ 08608. 

For the latest information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org; or contact the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs.