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Humane Society: Paramus Pet Store Saga Proves NJ Puppy Mill Sales Must End

Two of the 67 dogs found in the van parked behind the Route 17 Just Pups store in Paramus.
Two of the 67 dogs found in the van parked behind the Route 17 Just Pups store in Paramus. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Paramus PD

PARAMUS, N.J. -- The Humane Society of the United States on Sunday re-emphasized its support for a proposed law that would ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in New Jersey.

The organization already was backing state Sen. Raymond Lesniak's bill to allow for people to buy from breeders only when the breeder, puppy and consumer are present at the time.

Then came the discovery last Monday of 67 puppies inside a crated van parked behind a Paramus pet store.

"The latest pet store incident at Just Pups in Paramus further confirms that there is a clear and undisputable link between pet shops and puppy mills," Cheylin Parker, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society, told Daily Voice on Sunday.

"[T]his incident is not isolated and is not uncommon," Parker said. "Rather, it is yet another example of the pet store industry treating puppies as nothing more than products to sell and make a profit from.

"The need for a statewide bill that bans the sale of commercially-raised puppies in pet stores has never been greater."

The Humane Society "has worked with more than 130 localities across the nation to enact ordinances, similar to [Lesniak's bill], banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet shops," Parker added. "When challenged, these ordinances have been upheld as constitutional by six judges in five separate federal courts.

"The HSUS also works with pet stores, like Pets Plus Natural, which has stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, to convert them from selling puppy mill dogs to a more humane model of offering rescue/shelter animals for adoption.

"As of December 2015, Pets Plus Natural has converted all of its store to this new humane model," she added.

A state lawmaker from Paramus, Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, this past week also advocated legislation requiring inspections within a month after a pet store opens and then once every 90 days. Revenue from dog license fees would help fund the inspections, he said.

Puppies whose mothers have given birth more than once a year would also be banned from sale, under Lagana's proposal.

Borough authorities closed Just Pups after issuing what Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said were nearly 400 summonses .

A judge in Hackensack then rejected a bid by shop owner Vincent LoSacco for a temporary injunction to keep the store open.

LoSacco has argued that the puppies were delivered overnight and would have been retrieved at 7 a.m. Monday. There was nothing "illegal, inhumane or uncommon" about the setup , he told Daily Voice.

LoSacco -- who is fighting a somewhat similar battle at one of his shops in East Brunswick -- did get a borough Board of Health hearing to discuss his license postponed to May 2.

Nearly 30 protesters picketed outside the closed Just Pups store on Route 17 in Paramus on Saturday.

Another protest was planned for LoSacco's Emerson store on Kinderkamack Road this coming Wednesday. Borough officials there cited the shop for various violations in the wake of the Paramus incident.

Various petitions have amassed tens of thousand of signatures throughout the U.S. to ban puppy mills, which Lesniak said "have gained a notorious reputation for putting profits ahead of the humane treatment of dogs and cats.”

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