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August 12, 2019

Who knew pet leasing was a thing? Cars, yes; heavy equipment, sure. But leasing a dog or a cat? Apparently, the practice has become common, promoted by some pet stores and breeders. When the lease is up, typically in three years, a final payment can still be due before ownership of the pet is transferred.

“Families looking to bring a pet into the home can easily fall in love with a dog or cat they can’t afford,” said Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-Bergen), one of the prime sponsors of the bill. “Buyers end up signing a lease without understanding the fine print or knowing the total cost.”

That’s not going to happen here anymore. Gov. Phil Murphy enacted a law on Friday making New Jersey the sixth state to ban the practice. Specifically, the measure (A-4552), which had bipartisan support, 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,” Rooney said. “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.”

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.

California, Nevada, New York, Indiana and Washington already have banned pet leasing.

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