Tuesday, May 02, 2017
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is pleased to announce that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has conditionally vetoed Senate Bill 3041. The AKC, a multitude of our grassroots advocates, and a number of organizations allied in opposition to the onerous provisions of the legislation, worked together in urging Governor Christie to veto the bill. The AKC congratulates everyone who took the time to reach out to Governor Christie and express their concerns with the negative impact S.3041 would have had on New Jersey dogs and their owners. Your efforts made a huge difference!
HISTORY: In January 2016, New Jersey Senate Bill 63 and its companions were introduced. Among many burdensome provisions, the bills originally sought to ban pet stores in New Jersey from selling dogs and cats unless sourced from shelters and rescues. Due to vocal opposition by concerned New Jersey residents, the bills were amended multiple times, including the removal of the retail sales restriction. Through procedural maneuvering, Senate Bill 63 became Senate Bill 3041. The final version of the legislation contained some improvements we requested, but retained its original anti-breeder bias and focused the regulation of breeders and retail sales outlets. S.3041 considered anyone – including breeders – who sell more than 10 cats or dogs in a year to be “pet dealers.”
- Throughout the bills’ consideration, the AKC respectfully recommended better language to reflect the sponsors’ stated intent that small, hobby breeders would be exempt from the definition of “pet dealer”. Because one litter could qualify a person as a “pet dealer”, those concerns had not been considered.
- The arbitrary threshold and vague language in the “pet dealer” definition could have regulated many fanciers and enthusiasts. Because most municipalities do not allow commercial enterprises such as animal “dealers” in residential zones, hobby breeders could have found themselves in violation of state and local zoning laws, and forced to choose between their home and their hobby.
- The definition of pet dealer sought to impact breeders located in other states who may sell dogs in New Jersey. Because it would have impacted interstate commerce and created conflicts between New Jersey laws and the laws of other states, we argued that the definition of pet dealer was constitutionally suspect.
- Over previous versions, S.3041 actually increased the number of allowable health and welfare violations by pet dealers selling pets to pet stores.
- Like its predecessors, S.3041 contained more than two pages of “findings” that assailed the reputations of dog breeders with broadly-discredited conjecture, questionable statistics, and out-of-date USDA information.
On Monday, May 1, 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed Senate Bill 3041. In his letter to the Senate, Governor Christie wrote:
“I fully support efforts to protect New Jersey pet purchasers from unscrupulous pet dealers and pet shops, and I commend the bill’s backers for their unwavering support among pet breeders and brokers. However, aspects of this bill go too far. Rather than let the State use precious resources to enforce its existing laws against New Jersey businesses, this bill would require the Division of Consumer Affairs to engage in costly, and potentially unconstitutional, regulation of pet dealers, breeders, and brokers throughout the country. This bill would also have the unintended consequence of restricting consumer access to pets, even from responsible breeders.”
With a conditional veto, New Jersey’s Governor can dictate changes he would like to see made to a bill that has been passed by the legislature. Changes requested by Governor Christie’s conditional veto of S.3041 reflect the recommendations of the AKC and our grassroots advocates, and allied organizations united in the fight against S.3041, including the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).
The legislature can now either accept the changes, attempt to override the Governor’s veto, or refuse to accept the changes and let the bill die.
The American Kennel Club congratulates the thousands of New Jersey residents, fanciers, and enthusiasts who reached out to the Governor’s office asking for a veto of the legislation. Your outreach made a difference! The American Kennel Club sincerely thanks Governor Christie and his staff for addressing our concerns with his conditional veto of S.3041. We also offer our deepest appreciation to our state federation, the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, and to coalition partners NAIA—especially Barbara Reichman (also the Legislative Liaison of the Golden Retriever Club of America)—and PIJAC, who worked closely with AKC and offered respective expertise in advocating against S.3041.
AKC’s Government Relations (AKC GR) Department will provide additional information and, if necessary, calls to action when the New Jersey legislature considers action on the Governor’s conditional veto. For more information on S.3041 or other New Jersey legislation, contact AKC GR at email@example.com; or Jeffrey Ball with the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs at firstname.lastname@example.org.