BRICK – An amendment to an existing ordinance that will now require pet stores to sell rescue animals was passed unanimously by Brick Township council members.
After a Brick family was recently faced with the death of their dog, which was purchased from a Breeders Association of America store, the Township of Brick decided to make a change to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens to another resident.
An ordinance has been in place since 2012 that prohibits so-called “puppy mills” from existing in Brick, but the new amendment would also eliminate grandfathered protections for existing stores. Breeders Association of America at 588 Route 70 is the only pet store in Brick that benefits under these protections.
The amended ordinance goes into effect June 30. Anyone seeking a permit to sell animals between now and that time will be issued a license to do so under the new provisions.
After July 1, it’s the Ocean County Health Department’s job to periodically visit pet stores in Brick to ensure they are not permitting the sale of any pets that are not rescue animals.
Officials did not have an answer as to where animals would go after July 1 that are not from rescue organizations.
Councilwoman Lisa Crate, Council Vice President Andrea Zapcic and Councilman Jim Fozman expressed their support for the ordinance prior to its public hearing.
“This ordinance as it is currently written allows for the possibility of the acquisition of dogs from puppy mills,” said Councilwoman Crate. “This is a practice that we cannot stand for in Brick Township.”
Council Vice President Zapcic also shared that her own family has worked with reputable breeders and owned several rescue animals, and even has her purebred sheltie Gwendolyn’s paw print tattooed on her arm.
Dog and cat lovers, veterinary technicians and animal activists spoke during the public hearing, each sharing their own horror stories of working with Breeders Association, which one resident said was like working with a used car dealer.
Most of all, they demanded that Breeders Association take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming clients for their pets’ health issues.
One resident has been working in animal rescue for five years and said she has seen many horrible things done to animals, but what bothers her the most is seeing what Breeders Association has gotten away with. “It leads me to wonder whether or not they will care enough to take care of the animals that are coming from rescues that they’ll be able to sell in the future,” she said, adding, “I hope they never even consider us as supply for their demand.”
Another resident, who heard about the issue and drove up for the meeting from Cherry Hill, pointed out that if it were any other product, the owner would be out of business. Cherry Hill has also seen its fair share of the issue. After residents protested outside a pet store in the town in 2015, all 37 towns in Camden County have now signed onto an anti-puppy mill ordinance called Norman’s Law, named after a rescue dog adopted by a county freeholder.
At press time, the Breeders Association store on Route 70 was under quarantine by the Ocean County Health Department and store management was unavailable for comment.
While Brick Township’s move will not eliminate puppy mills from the world, or even the state, it gives these types of sellers a choice: sell responsibly or take your business elsewhere.