TINTON FALLS – The Borough Council has adopted an ordinance that will amend the Tinton Falls municipal code and prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in retail stores, with the exception of animals that have been rescued or donated.
Borough Council President Gary Baldwin, Deputy Council President John Manginelli, Councilman Christopher Pak, Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama and Councilman Brock Siebert adopted the ordinance following a public hearing on March 19.
Officials said the adoption of the ordinance would not affect an individual’s ability to obtain a dog of his choice directly from a rescue organization or a shelter, or from a legitimate licensed breeder where an individual can see the conditions in which the dogs are bred, or can confer directly with the breeder concerning those conditions.
The ordinance generally states that the owner of a pet shop may not sell animals he has obtained from large-scale commercial breeding facilities. Other municipalities throughout New Jersey have adopted similar restrictions in recent years.
Large-scale commercial breeding facilities are often referred to as puppy mills and kitten mills.
Pak said there are several breeders in Tinton Falls who would not be affected by the adoption of the ordinance. He said there are no retail pet stores in the community.
During the public hearing, attorney Tom Leach said he represents a coalition of pet stores in New Jersey. He said, “these laws have been tried in other locations and not one puppy mill has closed.”
Leach asked council members not to adopt what he called a “blanket ban” and to instead consider the merits of each pet store that might seek permission to open in the borough.
“This is a very complex issue. Would you consider tabling this ordinance tonight,” he asked the council.
Pak responded, saying, “Most retail distributors get their dogs from puppy mills. The council feels there is not much wiggle room for negotiations. … When you look at this and weigh it out, it’s a pretty simple answer of what we are going to do tonight.”
Siebert said borough officials “have received a lot of correspondence on this issue. (We found that) American Kennel Club (AKC) breeders prohibit the sale of their dogs in pet stores, those dogs will not be sold in pet stores. Therefore, dogs in pet stores are not coming from AKC breeders.”
Baldwin thanked the individuals who wrote to the council in support of the ordinance.
Matty Giuliano, the chaplain for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, spoke in support of the proposed law and asked the council members to adopt the “vital” ordinance.
The ordinance states that “a significant number of dogs and cats sold at pet shops come from large-scale commercial breeding facilities where the health and welfare of the animals are not adequately provided for.”
It states that “the inhumane conditions in puppy/kitten mills lead to a variety of serious health and behavioral issues in the animals bred in those facilities, which many consumers are unaware of when purchasing from pet shops due to both a lack of education on the issue and misleading and deceptive tactics of pet shops in most cases. These health and behavioral issues, which may not present themselves until sometime after the purchase of the animals, can impose exorbitant financial and emotional costs on consumers.”
Council members said that “restricting the retail sale of dogs/cats to only those that are sourced and available for adoption from shelters or rescue organizations is likely to decrease the demand for dogs/cats bred in puppy/kitten mills, and is likely to
increase demand for animals from animal shelters and rescue organizations.”
According to the ordinance, any person, firm or corporation who violates or neglects to comply with any provision of the ordinance will be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000 for each offense, or incarceration for not more than 90 days, or community service for not more than 90 days, or any combination of those penalties, as determined at the discretion of the municipal court judge.