EMERSON, N.J. – Emerson became the first town in Bergen County to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs Tuesday night.
The borough council unanimously passed an ordinance that restricts kennels and pet store operators from carrying any dogs bred at a facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded. One council member was absent for the vote.
With the decision, Emerson joins dozens of towns in Central and South Jersey who recently adopted similar ordinances.
Yet there is still a feeling of unrest regarding the new law.
“I think this is a first step,” said Councilwoman Danielle DiPaola. “But I think that, going forward, we might want to introduce another ordinance that might be a little bit stricter.”
Her statement inspired applause among the animal activists gathered.
The issue came to the fore amid a series of incidents involving the Just Pups chain of pet shops owned by Vincent LoSacco, a borough resident. LoSacco came to the hearing Tuesday to express his support for the ordinance.
Protestors have been gathering outside his Emerson shop for a number of months.
Despite passage of the new law, some of those who fought for it are not quite satisfied with the outcome.
Betty Michelmore said she and some of her colleagues are worried that LoSacco’s business can legally slip through the cracks of the ordinance.
“Something doesn’t feel right. There’s no clear-cut definition of a puppy mill,” she said. “I’m afraid he’s going to try and sneak around that.”
Before the council voted to pass the law, some activists said they supported it but are concerned about policing it.
Nevertheless, they considered the ban a victory.
“So many towns in Bergen County are poised and waiting to see what happened in Emerson,” said Robike Noll-Faries, a longtime animal activist.