Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Camden County Bans Puppy Mill Sales.....
Matt Flowers, @CP_MFlowers
CAMDEN Camden County Freeholders passed Thursday night a new law banning the sale of puppy-mill animals in the county.
The new legislation, passed on a 6-0 vote, makes Camden County the first in New Jersey and only the fourth county governing body in the nation to use the model legislation.
"Norman's Law," named after a shelter dog saved by Freeholder Jeffrey Nash, likely will increase demand for animals from shelters and rescue organizations and save tax dollars, officials said.
"As we said last week, we are going to stand up for animals of this county and ensure no one is profiting off of the inhumane treatment of puppy mills," Nash said.
The law only allows the retail sale of puppies and kittens from shelter or rescue organizations.
The Camden County Health Department's Division of Environmental Health will regularly inspect all pet stores in Camden County. Inspections will include determining the origin of the pets for sale and requiring shop owners to provide information on the animals being sold to the public.
According to Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, if violations are found, the shop will be penalized.
If any pet store in Camden County ignores the resolution, county officials will not only fine the business, but they can shut it down completely, officials said.
Community activist Alan Braslow, who has been protesting outside of a Cherry Hill pet store since July, thanked Camden County and supporters for passing the legislation.
"We did this together and will continue to protest and work until we attain a final resolution," Braslow said. He added, "we now need every municipality in the county to step up and pass the sister ordinance."
Nash said several other counties and towns have inquired about the model legislation after it was announced last week. He hopes the ban will take hold statewide.
Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer, Winslow Township Mayor Barry Wright, and Cherry Hill Councilwomen Sara Lipsett and Melinda Kane said in a news conference last week they are on board with the restrictions on the sale of puppy mill pets in their towns.
Mayer said it is important for all municipalities to pass sister legislation to give the resolution teeth.
"Gloucester Township is stepping up," Mayer said. "Not only do I believe this ordinance will improve the treatment of animals, but also reduce overpopulation and the costs associated with that."
Officials also said in addition to the inhumane conditions in which dogs are bred in puppy mills, the county animal shelter network is filled to capacity with homeless animals, costing taxpayers more money.
The freeholders worked closely with the Humane Society to craft the new legislation. Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said the resolution has made a positive impact in the other areas where it has been adopted.
"This ordinance would not only crack down on the cruelty in puppy mills, but would also give homeless cats and dogs in Camden County a greater chance of finding a home," Schatzmann said.
Activists say the law isn't designed to put stores out of business, but help them be more successful.
Amy Jesse, a public policy coordinator for the Humane Society said pet shops can thrive on a humane model, where they are only obtaining dogs and cats from shelters and rescues. She noted Pets Plus Natural, which has stores throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey — including Delran and Gibbstown — as an example.
"To date, they have converted 8 out of 10 of their stores to the humane model," said Jesse, who added the chain has adopted more than 1,700 dogs since August.
"One of the reasons Pets Plus Natural has seen so much success with the humane model is that the stores now have a much better relationship with the community."
Matt Flowers; (856) 486-2913; firstname.lastname@example.org