MADISON, NJ - A proposed ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of dogs and cats in the borough brought a lively and emotional debate by the public to the Borough Council meeting held April 8th. Advocates for the ban included members of animal rescue organizations including the borough’s St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Protesting the ban were pet shop owners – notably none from the borough.

Proponents of the ordinance banning the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores decried the source of the dogs as being puppy mills. Nora Parker of St. Hubert’s applauded the Council for introducing the ordinance and described the dogs from puppy mills as not “knowing the warmth of human touch and not seeing the light of day.” Larry Cohen, a representative of the Humane Society stated that this is a societal problem. He further advised that brokers deliver trucks full of puppies from the mills but that pet stores all deny that they receive their dogs from the mills. He asked where these dogs could be going.

Opponents of the ban included Alison Deeb, Morristown council member, who suggested that the proposed ordinance discriminated against pet store owners, that animal rescue organizations are not regulated, and that the market place should decide where consumers want to obtain their pets. Pet shop owners described the conditions of their facilities as optimal and argued that rescued pets also can suffer health issues. They advocated for choice in choosing a pet and protested the “fear and scare tactics of those opposing the sale of pets at pet stores.”

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The Council voted to withdraw the ordinance. According to Deb Coen, council member, “The Borough Attorney has been directed by the governing body to review and revise the draft ordinance as required. Mayor Conley has indicated that it will be reconsidered by the Council when that review is completed which should be within the next 30 days.”

The Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the Council meeting was led by four eighth graders from Cadette Girl Scout Troop 4538, Mallory Hayes, Elise Hart, Sophia Gennaro, and Bethany Bradstraw. Council member Maureen Byrne enthused that “girl scouts and boy scouts create the leaders of the future.” Bradstraw later presented her Silver Award project, bringing to Madison a “Kindness Garden.” The concept is inspired by The Kindness Rocks Project which is “…based on the profound truth that one message at the right moment can change someone’s day, their outlook, and, indeed, their whole life. The messages on these thoughtful pebbles take many forms: gratitude, affirmations, encouragement, and offers of hope—all signposts along the way for someone to find at exactly the right time.” Mayor Robert Conley made a motion to endorse the project, which passed unanimously.

Members of the Thursday Morning Club appeared in support of naming April Child Abuse Prevention month and April 5th as CASA Day. Mayor Conley proclaimed these to be. The Thursday Morning supports CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Morris and Sussex Counties.

Representatives of the F.M. Kirby Children’s Center of the Madison Area YMCA asked that April 8 through 12 be proclaimed the Week of the Young Child which the Mayor also did.

Two residents were administered the oath of office as volunteer firefighters. Thomas Johansen, 19-years-old, was named a volunteer firefighter at Hook and Ladder Company Number 1. And new United States citizen Santiago Lopez was named volunteer firefighter of Hose Company Number 1. A full complement of Madison firefighters was on hand to welcome the new recruits.

The Madison Environmental Commission proposed that the week of April 27 through May 4th be proclaimed “Plastic Free Week.” The goal is to encourage local businesses to voluntarily stop using plastic straws. Students who participated in the Environmental Commission’s Green Forum, Christian Wong and Carissa Finnerty of Madison High School and Amelia Nevin of Torey J. Sabitini School, along with MEC member Claire Whitcombe, spoke of the damage that plastic does to the environment. In support of this endeavor, the local Stop and Shop will be giving out 100 reusable bags.