New Jersey Says No to Pet Leasing

August 21, 2019

a golden retriever puppy

We have great news for New Jersey’s pets! On August 9, Governor Murphy signed a bill that will finally outlaw New Jersey pet stores’ inhumane practice of leasing dogs and cats.

Puppies sold in pet stores and online—primarily sourced from puppy mills—are often accompanied by soaring sticker prices. To make puppies appear more affordable, pet sellers partner with private lending companies to offer seemingly low monthly financing plans padded with hidden fees. Consumers can lose their pets if they miss payments or are unable to buy out their contracts at the end of their leases. The animals can be repossessed as if they were used cars.

“Few consumers are aware of how these financing arrangements are set up, and the word ‘lease’ is typically not mentioned during the transaction, so consumers are manipulated into believing they already own the dog or cat they brought home,” said Debora Bresch, Senior Director of State Legislation for the ASPCA, Upper Atlantic region. 

This bill makes New Jersey the seventh state in the country to ban pet leasing. California and Nevada outlawed the practice in 2017, New York followed in 2018, and Indiana, Washington and Connecticut passed bills this year.

Unfortunately, pet leasing is but one example of the disregard retail pet sellers often have for the well-being of their animals and customers, and the ASPCA has long warned consumers to be skeptical of pet stores and online sellers who may deceive them about the sources and health of the dogs they sell. We are hopeful that this bill’s passage will pave the way for stronger regulations on puppy mills in New Jersey, including ending the retail sale of cruelly bred dogs and cats.

We thank Governor Murphy for ushering the pet leasing ban over the finish line, the New Jersey State Legislature for its near-unanimous support, and the bill's sponsors, Assemblymembers John Armato and Raj Mukherji and Senators Vin Gopal and Kristin Corrado, for their commitment to ending the inhumane and deceptive practice of pet leasing. 

If you’d like to help pass animal-protection laws like pet leasing bans in your state, please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.