The Township Committee of Shamong, New Jersey, is expected to consider significant changes to its animal ordinances at its Tuesday, September 4, meeting. As currently worded, the proposal contains many troublesome and controversial provisions, including future prohibitions on kennels and breeders with 5 or more intact females. The proposal also includes breeding and ownership restrictions, and a prohibition on retail sales at pet stores. The American Kennel Club (AKC) respectfully opposes the draft as currently written. It is imperative that all concerned Shamong and area residents contact the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Township Committee members to express their opposition and concerns, request a detailed economic impact study, and urge amendments prior to future consideration of ordinance changes.
Current Township ordinance section 54-11 prohibits the keeping of any dog that creates a nuisance through habitual barking, yelping, or howling, or by the creation of obnoxious odors. Violations of that section are already subject to fines up to $200 per occurrence, up to 30 days in jail, or both, as provided in section 54-14. Instead of fully enforcing these sections and applicable state laws against purported violators, Shamong Township is proposing extensive and costly commercial breeder regulations.
WHAT THE PROPOSAL WILL DO:
As currently worded, the proposal would:
- Create unneeded and extensive kennel and breeder regulations. Shamong has an estimated population of only 6,500 people. Generally, regulations like those proposed may be more appropriate for state populations numbering in the multiple millions, but are not appropriate for small towns because extensive enforcement costs will be incurred with little impact on the health and welfare of animals. We recommend that Shamong officials fully study the economic impact of any extensive regulatory scheme and report those findings to the public before enactment. Furthermore, current Township ordinances and state laws should be fully enforced to address any purported nuisances.
- Increase annual fees for kennel operators to a minimum of $500. However, because the new definition is substantively based on the state’s definition of “kennel” (“an establishment wherein or whereupon the business of boarding or selling dogs or cats or breeding for dogs or cats for sale is carried on, except a pet shop”), it is unclear whether home-based breeders, including hobbyists, would be subject to the licensing requirements. AKC recommends this be clarified to be consistent with the commercial dog breeding facility threshold established in proposed §56-23 (E)(1).
- Prohibits new breeders, kennels, pet shops, pounds, or shelters from being established or becoming licensed. While these provisions “grandfather” existing entities located in Shamong, on principle the AKC opposes bans on responsible breeders and their facilities and recommends these provisions be eliminated from the proposal.
- Restricts pet stores from selling dogs or cats, but allows them to collaborate with animal care facilities and rescue organizations, which are generally unregulated, to showcase dogs or cats available through those sales channels. In contrast, the AKC emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet, and strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors. The AKC recommends this restriction also be removed from the proposal.
- Provides detailed requirements by which breeders, kennels, pet shops, pounds, or shelters with five or more breeding females (described as “commercial dog breeding facilities”) may remain in operation, including licensing, inspection, reporting requirements, and possession limits. As currently worded, the proposal implies, but does not explicitly state, that any breeders, including hobby breeders, who do not meet that possession threshold will not have to be licensed. The AKC recommends that any commercial dog breeder definition be based on commerce, not solely on the possession of dogs. The AKC also recommends the ordinance be substantively amended to explicitly state which breeders would or would not be subject to the licensing and regulatory aspects of the proposal. Finally, because AKC opposes ownership or possession limits as long as owners and/or facilities are providing proper care, the AKC recommends that the proposed possession limits be eliminated.
- Imposes “engineering” care and conditions standards to be imposed upon licensees. These include nonscientific standards for primary enclosure (undefined), temperature, food and water, litter limits, grooming, exercise, and sanitation standards. Exacting engineering standards are difficult to comply with and harder to efficiently enforce. In the interest of maximizing not only the achievement of the desired regulatory goals but also the economy of achieving those goals, we encourage the implementation of “performance” standards, which would allow regulated entities flexibility in providing proper care while affording enforcement officials greater flexibility in enforcement.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned Shamong residents as well as concerned New Jersey breeders, owners, fanciers, enthusiasts, and clubs are strongly encouraged to contact the Shamong Township Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Township Committee members and encourage them to not enact the dog ordinance proposal as currently worded. Instead, urge them to enforce current law and to work with all stakeholder groups in evaluating Shamong’s animal control needs before developing appropriate legislative solutions. Please use the talking points above.
Shamong residents: AKC encourages you to use the following to start your communications to Township officials: “My name is _______. I am a Shamong resident, a voter, and I urge you to oppose the proposed animal ordinance changes for the following reasons.” Then use the talking points, above, in your communications.
Mayor Michael Di Croce
Shamong Municipal Building
105 Willow Grove Road
Shamong, NJ 08088
Phone: 609-268-2377, 609-268-6331
Deputy Mayor Tim Gimbel
Committeeman Michael Cooney
Committeeman Sean Gray
Committeeman Martin Mozitis
Phone: 609-268-2377, 609-752-5665 (Cell)
The American Kennel Club will provide additional updates on the Shamong Proposal as developments warrant. For more information on this or other pending legislation in New Jersey, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.