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Council Urged: Act on 'Puppy Store' Ban

Animal advocates come to township council meeting

A number of animal advocates from across the state came to Tuesday evening's council meeting to urge the governing body to move on a proposed town-wide ban of stores that sell puppies.

The proposal, first put forth by Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, would prevent establishments from selling more than 10 dogs or cats per year.

"We need to protect and speak for the voiceless," said Jody Davis of Freehold, who came to this week's meeting. "The conditions in puppy stores are often painful and uncomfortable for the animals."

A subcommittee of three council members – Susan Lydecker, Domenick Brando and Dan Toth – is now researching the issue.

Some people expressed concerns that the effort to ban puppy stores – which are often registered as kennels rather than pet stores – could preclude local, small breeders from selling puppies as well.

Additionally, there has been some concern over an option to refuse to grandfather in the one remaining business – Breeders Association of America, Inc. – already selling puppies in town.

Toth said a previous effort to shut out a business – an adult book store on Chambers Bridge Road – resulted in litigation.

"The township was trying to be progressive and satisfy the wants of the community … however legally operating within the confines of the law, government had no right to be putting them out of business," said Toth.

"If we do an ordinance of this nature, we have to make sure it is tailored properly."

Acropolis urged the council to work with the township attorney to come up with an ordinance soon, perhaps splitting ordinances that deal with stores versus small breeders.

"From talking to the township attorney, we may be able to split those, and get something done sooner," he said.

The 'puppy store' issue came to light after one such store, Puppies Galore, was shut down by authorities in January. The store has since lost its license and the puppies – nearly all of which were sick at the time they were removed from the Hooper Avenue storefront – have been surrendered by the owner, Maria De Santis.

A criminal animal cruelty case against De Santis and store manager Nathan 'Nat' Sladkin is currently moving through the legal system.

Animal advocates charge that stores that sell puppies often purchase dogs from so-called "puppy mills" where animals are used solely for breeding and housed in inhumane conditions.

Jan Fisher April 02, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Please...do you really think that any of us are happy about backyard breeders selling in the newspapers? Our focus, right now, is on the local pet stores because we KNOW where those puppies come from. We have records. They come from breeders that breed on average between 100 to over 500 dogs at a time. This is worse than any local backyard breeder you can imagine and THAT is why we focus on this.
Seen Enough April 02, 2012 at 03:33 AM
"Change ALWAYS begins somewhere and usually at a slow pace." thats why prostitution and drugs are still around, people are buying, if there is a market people will supply it, no matter what the Brick council does I'm not for it but Dan Toth and others are not going to save the puppies, find another way
clamdigger April 02, 2012 at 09:35 AM
go ahead an fight your fight Jan the way you think you should,everyone needs a cause in life, threre are so many other bigger issues and fish to fry in this country,to me this isn't a real issue. If as you say you "KNOW where those puppies come from. We have records." why not go directly to the source instead of focusing on the store itself. The way you are attacking this is like closing down 1 crack house so the group can move to the next one all the while knowing where the main sources are but not focusing on them. Good luck, but it sounds like you'll be chasing your tails for quite a while. Maybe you can make a new tv show for animal planet, the Puppy Mill Police where you can get funding and tv coverage.
Jan Fisher April 02, 2012 at 12:30 PM
clamdigger: There are large organizations going after the puppy mills but, as usual, this is a political thing and difficult to eradicate. It is a MONEY MAKER and the puppy mills have a history of making large political donations. These puppy mills are not located in NJ and we cannot possibly fly to the mid-west to do this kind of work when other large advocates are doing this. Therefore, we will battle it at the retail end on a local level. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt because it doesn't appear that you know much about the business. Otherwise, I could not understand any human being condoning this kind of business and mocking those that try to make a difference. However, to each their own. I have a sneaky suspicion that you are "all talk" and, if you actually experienced a puppy mill dog, you would soften your views.
Jan Fisher April 02, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Seen Enough: If we knew another way, we would try it. I am finished defending my belief that helping the plight of the mass bred dogs in puppy mills is the right thing to do. If it really makes you content to have more pet stores selling puppies opening up in town with the potential to have another Puppies Galore, then don't support us. This issue is taking NOTHING away from you and it is ridiculous to even have this discourse. I respect your right to comment but I don't agree and I am finished defending something that needs no defending. Lets just say that if everyone had your attitude, there would be NO change - EVER. It is our right to try and we will.

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