Gopal Bill Banning Abusive Pet Leases Approved by Legislature

TRENTON - The State Senate and Assembly approved legislation this Thursday introduced by Senator Vin Gopal that would prohibit pet stores and breeders from leasing cats or dogs as pets in New Jersey.

“There’s an implicit assumption in the idea of ‘leasing’ a pet - that, after a period of time, that pet is going to be torn away from a loving home, possibly just after it’s come to know its new family,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch). “When families can’t or won’t pay, their loved cat or dog is taken away and leased to the next buyer in line, just to pad the breeder’s pockets.”

Under the bill (S-3531), pet stores and breeders would be banned from leasing cats and dogs as pets to local families, a practice that can turn a lifetime of happy adoptions into a nightmare of monthly payments and separations of pets from loving homes.

“Even worse, many families don’t even understand that they’re signing up for a lease when they agree to a contract, thinking instead that they’ve signed up for a pet adoption loan,” Gopal added. “According to CBS News, many vulnerable families are tricked into high-interest payment plans that force them to pay large sums of money to predatory businesses in order to keep their much-loved animals.”

Although the bill calls for the complete ban of pet leasing in New Jersey, assistance animals such as guide dogs, security dogs, and other assistance animals would not be impacted by the ban. Fostering programs, in which a family temporarily adopts an animal in order to provide a short-term home outside of a shelter, would also be unaffected.

“At the end of the day, our pets aren’t fancy cars or expensive furniture to be leased - they’re true members of the family,” Gopal said. “It’s time to make sure that they’re treated that way.”

The bill now proceeds to the Governor for consideration.