September 10, 2015
Camden County Freeholders announced Thursday that they will prohibit pet stores from selling animals obtained from commercial breeders operating inhumane puppy mills, making it the fourth county in the nation to impose such a ban.
The policy, expected to be approved Sept. 17, is aimed at supporting local shelters and rescue adoptions rather than large-scale breeders selling commercially-raised puppies and kittens. County officials also claim the policy will save tax dollars.
"In Camden County there will be no commercial sale of dogs or cats that come from these atrocious, atrocious facilities," said Freeholder Jeff Nash, who is sponsoring the resolution. "Our goal is to end these practices and to encourage our residents to rescue a loving pet."
The county Department of Health's Division of Environmental Health will determine the origin of pets for sale during its regular inspections of pet stores. Stores that sell animals from puppy mills will fail the inspection and could be shut down.
Health inspectors will work alongside the Humane Society of the United States to identify known puppy mills.
Nash could not specify exactly how many pet shops might be impacted by the ordinance. But he acknowledged that Pat's Pups, a Cherry Hill store that opened in July, could be affected.
Alan Braslow, an animal rights activist, has led protests against Pat's Pups, claiming the store uses so-called "brokers" who serve as a middleman between retail outlets and puppy mills. Braslow reiterated these claims at the press conference.
"We're not targeting any store or stores at this time," Nash said. "It gives all stores, if they exist, 90 days to comply. That may mean the store on Route 70 that Alan referred to. It may mean other stores. The county has the responsibility, under the law, to inspect all pet stores."
Pat Youman, owner of Pat's Pups, declined to comment, saying he plans to hold a press conference of his own after consulting with his lawyers.
"I've been open for seven weeks now," Youman said. "Every time I say something, (the media) takes 10 words of what I said and then makes the protesters look like angels."
Nash said the resolution not only provides the county a practical avenue to prevent stores from selling animals obtained from puppy mills, but also sends a symbolic message.
"We are making a public statement that in our county, that our 222 square miles and 510,000 people, that whether you're thinking about it or will think about it tomorrow – don't think about it," Nash said. "You are not selling these dogs in our county – period."
The Freeholders also are encouraging municipalities within Camden County to pass ordinances banning the commercial sale of animals obtained from puppy mills.
"In order to make this resolution work, municipalities have to step up," Gloucester Township Mayor Dave Mayer said. "This ordinance is not only going to improve the treatment of animals but will go a long way in helping to reduce the pet overpopulation."
The Humane Society estimates that 2 million to 4 million puppies sold each year come from puppy mills. The Human Society claims such breeding facilities contribute to pet overpopulation, resulting in the same number of pets euthanized at shelters.
At least seven New Jersey local municipalities — Brick Township, North Brunswick Township, Hoboken, Manasquan, Oceanport, Point Pleasant Beach Township and Point Pleasant Borough — have passed ordinances banning the sale of animals obtained from puppy mills, according to the Humane Society.
"We're looking to prevent the commercial sale of these animals," Nash said. "We're not looking to lock people up. We're not looking to cause any extraordinary harm to a business owner. That's not our focus. Our focus is to protect these animals."