New Jersey becomes sixth state to ban pet leasing

Smiling young man lying on carpet with golden retriever puppy

MORRIS COUNTY — Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation making New Jersey the sixth state in the nation to ban pet leasing. As pet stores and breeders scramble to sell expensive puppies while they are young and most attractive to buyers, some resort to leasing contracts to place animals.

The measure (A4552), sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, bans cat and dog leasing except in cases where they are purebred and being used for breeding purposes or if the animals are specially trained to perform tasks like police K-9s and guide dogs.

“You’re not buying a dog, you are renting it,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “The lease can double or triple the cost, and with some dogs going as high as $5,000, it can add up fast. Families can suffer a serious financial hit, and if they miss a payment, the family pet can be repossessed. This law also protects our pets as they often become part of our families.”

When the lease is up, typically in three years, there can still be a final payment that must be made before ownership of the pet is transferred, explained Rooney.

“Families looking to bring a pet into the home can easily fall in love with a dog or cat they can’t afford,” Rooney noted. “Buyers end up signing a lease without understanding the fine print or knowing the total cost.”

The law, which takes effect immediately, establishes a penalty up to $10,000 for leasing a dog or cat, and up to $30,000 for additional violations.

Other states that have bans include California, Nevada, New York, Indiana and Washington.

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