New Jersey is one step away from making it illegal to lease most dogs and cats.
Both houses of the state Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill that would ban pet stores and breeders in the Garden State from engaging in the practice. Animals trained as police K-9 and guide dogs would be exempted.
It’s now up to Gov. Phil Murphy whether to sign the measure into law or veto it.
If the bill (A4552) does become law, the fines for breaking it would be steep: $10,000 for a first offense and $30,000 each offense after that.
New Jersey would be the fourth state to put such a ban in place, joining California, Nevada, and New York.
Advocates say pet leasing is deceptive “predatory practice” and puts caring for a pet on par with leasing a car.
The bill was designed to combat pet stores and breeders that resort to leasing animals when they can’t sell them or to families who can’t afford to own.
But the lease can double or triple the cost in the end, with some dogs “going as high as $5,000,” said state Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-Bergen, a main sponsor of the measure.
“Families looking to bring a pet into the home can easily fall in love with a dog or cat they can’t afford,” Rooney said. “Breeders sign them up for a payment plan, but usually the offer is too good to be true.”
Another sponsor, state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said “good people are being deceived into thinking they’re purchasing a high-end breed with the promise of affordable monthly payment plans, not realizing they’re actually signing a two or three-year lease that could result in their pet being repossessed.”