A piece of legislation that would have prevented inhumane puppy mills from selling dogs to pet shops and breeders in the state of New Jersey has been rejected by Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie argued that the regulation was potentially “unconstitutional” and would put burdensome requirements on the industry and the state, NJ.com reported. He also said aspects of the bill went “too far."
The bill, a revision of the Pet Purchase Protection Act, sought to regulate pet dealers like pet shop owners. It would have imposed fines as high as $20,000 and revoked the operating licenses of breeders and shop owners after a third violation, the article stated.
Christie recommended a revised measure that scrapped the “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” penalty for pet dealers and pet shop owners which he said could “permanently close them for something as innocuous as unknowingly obtaining pets from a source that was cited” but not yet found guilty of technical violations.
The decision to pass on the bill is a disappointment to many animal advocates fighting against puppy mills, including one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblyman Daniel Benson. "This bill had one simple intention: to stop pet shops and consumers from buying from pet dealers who have had multiple USDA violations,” Benson said in an official statement.
“Pet dealers should follow the same regulations as do pet shop owners,” he continued. "Unfortunately, the governor, through his veto language allows the worst actors (out-of-state puppy mills that are unregulated) to continue to sell into NJ without any oversight. Also, by removing the three strikes provisions in the bill, the worst pet stores and dealers will keep operating."
Benson wasn't the only one to express concerns about the rejected bill. The Humane Society released a statement that read, "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sided with puppy mill interests and conditionally vetoed a broadly supported measure to protect dogs and consumers from reckless and inhumane puppy mills."
The Humane Society, which is urging legislators to override Christie's decision in order to protect both animals and consumers, noted that "an estimated 10,000 puppy mills produce more than 2,400,000 puppies each year in the U.S."
Not everyone was upset with Christie's decision, however, including The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which argued that the bill (S-3041) wasn't actually "new" legislation and that it would "harm the state’s independent pet retailers and consumers."
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Read more: The 10 Ways You Can Help Stop Puppy Mills