Animal advocates call for Old Bridge to ban retail sale of dogs and cats ahead of retail pet center opening

OLD BRIDGE – Animal advocates are calling for the township to consider banning the retail sale of dogs and cats after the news of a retail pet center soon opening in The Shoppes at Old Bridge on Route 9.

The advocates said they are not against the retail pet center to open; however, they are against the sale of dogs and cats.

Some 140 municipalities in New Jersey have already banned the retail sale of dogs and cats, including neighboring municipalities – North Brunswick, South Brunswick, Carteret, South Amboy, Highland Park, Metuchen, Sayreville, Manasquan, Oceanport, Eatontown, Marlboro, Ocean, Union Beach, Bradley Beach, Manalapan, Brielle, Matawan, Asbury Park, Holmdel, Wall Township and Tinton Falls.

Joseph Gallo appeared before the Township Council with his son Tom Gallo on Jan. 13 to present their soon-to-be family-owned and -operated retail pet center, which they are opening under the franchise Petland Inc.

“Currently under construction we will have a full line pet center, carry pet supplies, small animals, reptiles, birds, fish, dogs and cats,” Joseph Gallo said. “We will approximately employ 30 local people.”

The elder Gallo said they come from a family that loves animals and a passion for animal welfare.

“Tom Gallo, my son, will be the owner and general manager,” he said.

He explained that his son graduated from the pre-veterinary program at Rowan University, worked at the Monmouth County SPCA for two years, volunteered at New Jersey Cuddly Creatures Rescue in Manalapan for six years, and has worked at County Line Veterinary Hospital in Jackson for the last two and a half years.

Joseph Gallo said their goal with the opening of the retail pet store is to eliminate puppy mills and provide residents a place to get quality pets. He said his son, while on the job, has seen local families purchase puppies from unregulated sources and purchase puppies black market style.

“We then see those animals turn up in the veterinary office with a host of disease and ailments, which costs the person thousands of dollars, nevermind the welfare of the animal,” he said.

Joseph Gallo said their store gets their pets from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensed breeders and distributors.

“We visit these breeders personally, myself and my family, we go out and visit the breeders,” he said. “We have been to over 30 breeders in the last eight months. These breeders and animals are well taken care of; facilities are beautiful, well maintained and clean. The animals are happy, well socialized, they are excited to see you as if you went to someone’s house and the dogs run to the door.”

Joseph Gallo added most of the breeding places have large fields and large grassy areas.

Currently there are 10,000 breeders in the United States; only 19% are USDA licensed, Joseph Gallo said.

He said there are vast differences between registered commercial licensed breeders and puppy mills.

A USDA licensed breeder must provide safe and comfortable housing with ample room; veterinarian documented socialization and exercise program; vaccinate against major diseases; provide parasite prevention; a state-issued health certification; and have a consulting veterinarian.

Puppy mills are known to use unlicensed breeders, have uninspected facilities, very little breed records, no veterinary care, poor housing and poor sanitation, Joseph Gallo said.

“Our store will do more than sell pets and pet supplies,” he said. “We have adopt-a-pet programs which will help the local animal shelter, find homes for rescues, and do fundraising events for local animal shelters. We also have food donation programs to help with expenses of the food in shelters.”

Joseph Gallo said if a person cannot take care of a pet that was purchased at their store for any reason, they will always take the pet back.

He said their business provides services, such as a K-9 program and a pets in the classroom program; in addition to supporting charities, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Edina Brown said she met with the Gallo family a year ago and saw firsthand how they care about animals. She said she understands the concerns of the animal advocates and hopes they can all work together.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.