Pet shops in Ocean Township will be allowed to sell only dogs and cats that have been legally obtained from an animal care facility or animal rescue organization under an ordinance introduced last week by the Township Council.
The ordinance, which will have a public hearing on Nov. 10, also requires that all cats and puppies be at least eight weeks old before adoption.
“A significant number of puppies and kittens sold at pet shops come from large-scale, commercial breeding facilities where the health and welfare of the animals are not adequately provided for (“puppy mills” and “kitten mills). According to The Humane Society of the United States, it is estimated that 10,000 puppy mills produce more than 2,400,000 puppies a year in the United States and that most pet shop dogs and cats come from puppy mills and kitten mills,” the ordinance said.
It said large commercial-breeding facilities lead to overbreeding; inbreeding; minimal to non-existent veterinary care; lack of adequate and nutritious food, poor water and shelter; lack of socialization; lack of adequate space; and lack of adequate exercise.
Adrieanne Gnassi, a co-founder of Wag On Inn Rescue, a cat and dog adoption and rescue service based in the township’s Oakhurst section, said she supports the ordinance.
“It’s a great idea and the township officials are right on target,” she said.
“(Puppy and cat mills) just encourage the breeding of these animals- they are not taken care of, they are all thrown together, they are not tested for diseases and it’s terrible. This doesn’t help the animals, doesn’t help the industry, and eventually leads to us getting more animals that we need to cure and get adopted,” she said.
Gnassi, who now does only volunteer work for Wag On In, said she urges the Township Council to adopt the ordinance
“I also encourage other towns to do the same and this should really be a nationwide effort,” she said.
Wag On In, founded in 2000, finds temporary foster homes for its rescued animals and works with individuals and businesses to get them adopted.
“We get several hundred dogs adopted every year and even more cats,” Gnassi said.
Many consumers are unaware of the pet mill issue when purchasing animals from pet shops due to both a lack of education on the issue and misleading tactics of pet shops in some cases.
Township officials said that current federal and state regulations do not adequately address the sale of puppy and kitten mill dogs and cats in pet shops and that the ordinance should severely cut into this practice.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health 2014 Animal Intake and Disposition Survey more than 20,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in New Jersey animal shelters annually. Restricting the retail sale of puppies and kittens to only those that are sourced from animal shelters and rescue organizations will likely reduce pet overpopulation and thus the burden on such agencies and financial costs on local taxpayers, the ordinance states.
The ordinance will not affect the consumer’s ability to obtain a dog or cat directly from a breed-specific rescue organization or shelter or from a hobby breeder where the consumer can see directly the conditions in which the dogs or cats are bred.