NEWARK, NJ – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has cited a number of pet shops throughout the State for failing to comply with laws designed to protect consumers from purchasing unhealthy pets. While it did not receive a Notice of Violations, one local business Pet Lover’s Outlet, in Fairfield, received a letter directing an appearance at an executive conference to do one or all of the following: discuss inspection violations, implement a compliance plan, and impose a civil penalty.
In all, there were 17 locations cited with notices of violations and nine received letters for executive conferences. There were 698 violations recorded, $138,525 in civil penalty in settlement with full compliance was logged and $409,000 was charged in maximum civil penalty
Click here for a list of violations.
Violations cited include a failure to label dogs’ and cats’ cages with each animal’s breeding history, medical background, and other information required under amendments made to the Pet Purchase Protection Act, effective earlier this year.
“Providing consumers with information about the breeder and the animal’s veterinary history allows consumers to make educated choices in purchasing a pet for their family,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “Pet shops that don’t provide this vital information are breaking the law and denying consumers the ability to fully research this important decision.”
All of the pet shops that received Notices of Violations from the Division were cited for failing to include the required information on cage labels for each animal, including where and when it was bred; the name and address of anyone who brokered the sale between breeder and pet store; the date and name of vet who performed the animal’s initial medical exam; and the age, sex, and identifying marks or tags on the animal.
Several pet shops were also cited for failing to properly display reports of any federal inspections conducted on breeders and brokers in the past two years. Additional violations involved the failure to properly display the required “Know Your Rights” signs informing customers of their rights when purchasing an animal from a pet shop.
“Information required by the Pet Purchase Protection Act is crucial to consumers who want to know that the pets they bring into their homes were bred under healthy conditions that comply with the required standards of care,” said Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs Steve Lee. “The Division is committed to ensuring that these facts are readily available to consumers, as the law requires.”
The Notices of Violation direct the pet shops to comply with the Pet Purchase Protection Act, and pay a reduced civil penalty. Pet shops that fail to address the Notice they received, or contest the violations, face higher civil penalties.
“Our goal is to bring pet shops into compliance with our consumer protection laws,” said Lee. “We believe these actions will achieve that objective. However, if pet shops do not agree to accept the negotiated penalties and fully comply with the Pet Purchase Protection Act, we stand ready to bring them to court and seek the maximum penalties as set by law.”
In addition to issuing NOVs, the Division took alternative action against certain other pet shops. Stores that have more than one retail location with multiple violations, had three or fewer animals for sale at the time of the inspection, or whose inspection requires a more detailed review, were sent letters directing their appearance at executive conferences to discuss inspection violations, implement a compliance plan, and impose a civil penalty. Pet Lover’s Outlet in Fairfield was one of the stores to receive this note. They were not alone as nine were sent out in all.
Know Your Rights Before Purchasing a Pet:
New Jersey Consumer Protection Laws, including the Pet Purchase Protection Act:
- Require that cage labels contain the name, street address, web address, and license numbers for each animal’s breeder and broker. Labels must also include the date and place of each animal’s birth; its age, sex, and identifying markings including any tag, tattoo, collar number, or microchip information; the date of its initial medical exam and the name and address of the vet who examined it.
- Mandate on-cage display of the “Know Your Rights” sign informing consumers that stores are required to prominently display the two (2) most recent inspections of the facility in which an animal was bred and housed prior to sale. The sign must direct consumers to request any undisplayed reports and inform consumers concerning how to obtain more information about inspections.
- Require that an animal be examined by a veterinarian within five (5) days of being offered for sale and that those results be included in the animal’s history and health certificate.
- Mandate that if an animal was examined more than 14 days before it is purchased, the pet must be re-examined within three (3) days of delivery to the consumer (unless the consumer declines the re-examination in writing).
- Forbid the sale of any animal purchased from a breeder or broker who doesn’t hold required state and federal licenses; has violated certain animal welfare laws in the past two years; or has refused to grant inspectors access to its facilities within the past two years.
The initiative was coordinated by Office of Consumer Protection Investigator Donna Leslie with legal assistance from the Division of Law, coordinated by DAG Patricia Schiripo. The Consumer Affairs Local Assistance offices in Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, and Union counties assisted in the investigation.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.