The Brick Township council this week voted in favor of modifying an ordinance to strip away the grandfathered status of Breeders Association of America, a move that would bar the store – currently shut down as an investigation over complaints of unhealthy animals moves forward – from selling commercially-sourced puppies.
For years, the store has weathered protests from animal rights advocates, who have accused the business of sourcing their dogs for sale from so-called “puppy mills.”
In 2012, the township council passed an ordinance banning any new stores from selling commercially-sourced dogs in town, but grandfathered the one remaining business that did – Breeders Association. The revised ordinance, introduced this week, would take away that status, banning puppy sales in stores that current exist. In 2012, then-township attorney Jean Cipriani advised the council to include the grandfathering clause in the ordinance over concerns the remaining business would sue to the town. The council, at that time, had also wanted to ban puppy sales altogether.
The new ordinance comes as Breeders Association of America, located in a Route 70 strip mall, has come under fire for allegedly selling unhealthy pets, including one that died from a fatal canine virus. The Ocean County Health Department is currently conducting an investigation into the claims and has shut the store down until April 28. The proposed Brick ordinance would shut down puppy sales at the site permanently.
Brick Councilwoman Lisa Crate said she believes the store could still find success even after it is no longer allowed to sell commercially-sources dogs. A chain in Pennsylvania, Pets Plus, converted all their stores to handling rescue dogs for adoption and sold pet supplies and other items.
“There are different, better ways to make money on pets,” Crate said. “The least amount of money that can be made in this industry is through the sale of animals.”
Crate acknowledged that there was no direct evidence that Breeders Association – which she did not mention by name – was selling dogs from puppy mills, but said the ordinance, as currently written, “allows for it to be a possibility.”
“While I understand we are not eliminating puppy mills from the world in general, we are, at the very least, taking away from the sales of these puppies in our community,” she said.
“I understand that this is a small business and I understand the need for Brick to support small business owners,” she continued. “We are giving this business a chance to enhance their strengths.”
The ordinance would require a second vote to be enacted into law. That vote is scheduled for the April 25 council meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the township municipal complex.