Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday signed the Pet Purchase Protection Act into law.
This legislation, sponsored by Sen. James Holzapfel and Assembly members Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin, requires pet stores to display additional information about each dog and cat for sale, including the name and address of the breeder. The aim of the legislation is to cut down on unscrupulous pet stores whose owners source their animals from so-called “puppy mills.”
“After years of dedication to this legislation, we are pleased this measure to protect the purchaser from buying sick pets for their families is now law,” said Holzapfel, in a statement. “By requiring a pet store to disclose the history at the point of sale, we can give consumers the opportunity to research the breeder and make an informed decision on where to make their purchase.”
The bill was inspired, at least in part, by the case of Puppies Galore, a Brick Township pet store that was shut down by health authorities and, ultimately, township officials, after 39 sick dogs were removed from the store, some dehydrated and malnourished. The store was owned by Maria De Santis and Nathan “Nat” Sladkin, who were ultimately charged with 42 counts of animal cruelty. The pair eventually reached a plea bargain with prosecutors, agreeing to pay fines, restitution and a lifetime ban from selling pets in New Jersey. It was speculated that the dogs at the store had originated from puppy mills.
The Pet Protection Act requires all information regarding a pet to be posted on the cage or enclosure a sign that includes the age, name of breeder and their contact information as well as the breeder’s USDA license number. In addition, consumers would be able to access the USDA inspection reports for all breeders, with the law imposing a $500 penalty for failure to comply with the requirements.
“The Humane Society of the United States thanks Governor Christie for signing Senator Holzapfel, Assemblyman Wolfe, and Assemblyman McGuckin’s Pet Store Disclosure bill,” said Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “This new law will protect consumers by requiring pet stores to disclose the source of the puppies they sell for purchase, and will eliminate sales in New Jersey pet shops of puppies acquired from some of the worst puppy mills in the nation.”