New Jersey Assembly Bill 2338 is scheduled for consideration and a vote by the full New Jersey Assembly on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Due to possible legislative procedures, this may be the last time concerns with this legislation can be addressed to the full Assembly. AKC asks all dog owners and breeders in New Jersey to contact their Assembly member and Assembly Speaker Prieto and respectfully urge opposition to A.2338 until the concerns outlined below are addressed.
The AKC and a coalition of animal interest groups have actively opposed A.2338 and its companion, S.63, since their introductions in January 2016. (An identical bill, S.3041, was recently introduced and has been scheduled for a vote in the Senate today.) Concerns include:
- A.2338, its companion S.63, and the identical bill S.3041 have not been assigned to or considered by a legislative committee with any animal or husbandry expertise. The AKC believes that legislation with far-reaching impacts on New Jersey, its dogs, and their breeders and owners should receive the fair consideration of legislators recognized for their expertise on animal and husbandry matters before being moved for a final vote.
- A.2338 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. The AKC is concerned that this arbitrary threshold will regulate far too many fanciers and enthusiasts. Additionally, because 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.
- The current version of A.2338 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 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (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.
- Since its introduction, A.2338 has contained 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.”
To see AKC’s latest alert on S.3041, a bill identical to A.2338, click here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
It is imperative that concerned New Jersey residents and its responsible breeders and owners contact their State Assembly member (and cc Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto). Ask them to amend A.2338 as outlined above; or to not advance A.2338 on Thursday, March 16.
Go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp to find your New Jersey State Senator.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto – AsmPrieto@njleg.org.