On Monday, December 4, the New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee will discuss two dog-related bills, both of which should be of concern to New Jersey dog owners and purebred dog fanciers. Senate Bill 182 seeks to require the licensing of pet groomers, and establishes licensing and operating requirements for facilities where grooming is performed. Senate Bill 4079 seeks to implement a statewide ban on the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits by pet shops, and repeals the state’s consumer protection laws for pet purchases. The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages all concerned dog owners to contact the Senate Economic Growth Committee to explain why both bills are untenable for consideration during the remaining weeks of the current “lame duck” legislative session.
Despite more recent efforts that reflected compromises among proponents and potentially regulated groups, S.182 features language that was originally proposed at least as far back as four years ago to regulate pet groomers in New Jersey, which:
- Expansively defines pet grooming as “the act of bathing, brushing, clipping, or styling a pet”, which would likely apply to professional show dog handlers and non-professionals alike. In AKC’s view, grooming that is incidental to preparing a dog for a dog show or other exhibition should be conducted with appropriate care but should not be subject to licensing or professional grooming regulations.
- Puts the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners in charge of groomer licensing and regulation, despite indications that board has no interest in administering the program.
- Requires the publication of a list of all licensed groomers, including addresses.
- Prohibits the use of drying cages.
- Requires 24/7 interior and exterior video surveillance, and recordings to be maintained for a minimum of 60 days.
- Does not provide for reciprocity or portability of licenses with other jurisdictions.
AKC believes this bill, as currently worded, represents a significant step away from the work done by lawmakers and stakeholders to craft reasonable, cost-effective pet groomer oversight. Moreover, the bill fails to consider programs that already exist which provide substantiation of groomer training in safety measures and protocols, including AKC’s S.A.F.E. Grooming Program.
Over the past decade, animal activists have successfully advocated for local prohibitions on the retail sale of dogs and cats in approximately 140 cities and towns in New Jersey, which covers the vast majority of locations where New Jersey residents live. Nevertheless, S.4079 seeks to impose a statewide ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores in the state; and would likely put existing New Jersey pet stores out of business because they would not be “grandfathered” under the bill.
S.4079 would also negatively impact individuals. It seeks to impose an expansive definition of pet dealer (any person engaged in the ordinary course of business in the sale of cats or dogs to the public for profit OR any person who sells or offers for sale more than five cats or dogs in one year) without substantively addressing its impact (including how the sale of puppies from one large litter would qualify someone as a pet dealer, and whether the definition would trigger local zoning issues for those described as a pet dealer under the bill). Perhaps most shockingly, the bill seeks to completely repeal New Jersey’s Pet Purchase Protection Act, which allows for consumer restitution if an animal they purchase becomes seriously ill or dies within 14 days after purchase and a veterinarian certifies that the animal as unfit for purchase.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Concerned dog owners, fanciers, enthusiasts, and professional handlers in New Jersey are strongly encouraged to contact the Senate Economic Growth Committee and Senator Brian Stack, the primary sponsor of both S.182 and S.4079, to explain why both bills are too complex and untenable for consideration and passage by the committee during the few remaining weeks of the current legislative session.
State Senator Nilsa I. Cruz-Perez, Chair
Phone: (856) 853-2960
State Senator Troy Singleton, Vice-Chair
Phone: (856) 234-2790
State Senator Kristin M. Corrado
Phone: (973) 237-1360
State Senator Joseph Pennacchio
Phone: (973) 227-4012
State Senator Shirley K. Turner
Phone: (609) 323-7239
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 816-3720.