Senate advances ‘Puppy mill’ bill that intends to help prevent inhumane treatment of dogs and cats

TRENTON, NJ — Legislation authored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak that would help control the abusive treatment of dogs and cats and protect purchasers was approved by a Senate committee Thursday.

The bill, S-63, would prohibit the sale of pets from “puppy mills” in New Jersey, including commercial sales by pet stores of puppies and kittens from large-scale breeding facilities prone to over breeding, inbreeding and neglect.

“No animals should be treated in a cruel or inhumane way but we have a special responsibility when it comes to the treatment of domesticated pets who rely on humans for their care,” said Lesniak. “These puppy mills betray our responsibility to the dogs and cats that devote themselves to people. Their mass breeding has created inbred health and behavioral problems and the inhumane conditions have left too many of these pets to suffer from neglect and mistreatment.”

A significant number of cats and dogs are sold at pet shops, over the internet, and through brokers that come from large-scale, commercial breeding facilities where the health and welfare of the animals are neglected.

Commonly referred to as “kitten mills” and “puppy mills,” these facilities are known for documented abuses, including over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal to non-existent veterinary care, and a lack of adequate food, water, shelter, socialization, space, and exercise, conditions that often lead to health and behavioral issues.

“This would not only help prevent the cruel treatment by puppy mills, it will also give abandoned dogs and cats a home,” said Lesniak. “Too many pets are being euthanized when there are many families willing to care for them.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States, an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the country are now producing approximately 2.4 million puppies each year. The so-called “sight unseen” sale of family pets originating from puppy mills has increased dramatically in recent years, fueled in large part by internet sales. Many of the breeders are unlicensed and most of the sales are unregulated.

The measure effectively bans the sale of inhumane puppy and kitten mill animals in New Jersey, both over the internet and in pet shops.

The bill would prohibit the sales unless they are made for the exclusive preservation of the bloodline or for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research by a registered research facility. It would allow the sale of pets from animal shelters, pounds, kennels and animal rescue organizations.

The bill would establish a penalty of $500 for each violation, in addition to other penalties that may be imposed pursuant to the state consumer fraud law.

An estimated 20,000 dogs and cats are put to death each year in New Jersey, according to the state Health Department.