Since 2006 various legislators in New Jersey have tried to enact a law to regulate breeders who sell more than five puppies per year or have more than two breeding dogs.

The latest is out of the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace (D) of Paramus, N.J.

A736 was introduced on Jan. 10, 2012, and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, as were previous similar bills.

The bill’s stated purpose is to regulate what it calls “puppy mills” within the state and prevent dealers outside New Jersey from transporting massive numbers of puppies, raised in unknown and possibly abusive and unhealthy environments, into the state for sale in pet shops.

“It is definitely one of the worst kinds of bills that we’ve seen as far as restrictions,” said Lisa Peterson, director of communications for the American Kennel Club.

One of its provisions – that a bitch could only have one litter per year – has been cropping up more and more in proposed legislation, she said.

Although the bill is identical to one introduced in 2010, “It goes far beyond what the previous ones [to that] have proposed,” she added. “It’s certainly something that we’re going to be following very closely and very carefully.”

Under A736, anyone selling or offering to sell more than five dogs per year would be considered a breeder, subject to all the law’s conditions. “Any building or other structure, or area whether indoor or outdoor,” where more than two dogs are housed for the purpose of selling their puppies “for any purpose” would be a “breeding facility.”

The proposed law defines similar environmental requirements that other states have tried to impose, such as air circulation, temperature, enclosure size and materials, cleanliness, etc. In addition, it defines veterinary care and exercise standards.

It also offers a commission of at least $250 to anyone reporting a breeder suspected of operating outside the parameters of the law if it turns out to be true.

“This to me just cries out to be a witch hunt,” Peterson said. “Something like that really opens up the door to allowing unqualified individuals to put responsible people at risk.”

Another concern with the bill, Peterson said, is that it “lumps all breeders into one sub-standard category.”

When a similar bill was introduced in 2008, the New Brunswick [N.J.] Kennel club issued a statement saying, “The details of A1591 make it obvious that it intends to stop the breeding of dogs and cats in New Jersey. This bill is not pro-animal, not even pro-consumer; it is simply anti-breeder.”

The law would also apply to cat breeders.

Assemblyman Eustace’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

To read the bill, click here.