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Emerson Takes First Step Toward Banning Puppy Mills

A crowd of people assembled at the Emerson Borough Council meeting, many in favor of an ordinance that would ban the sale of puppy mill dogs.
A crowd of people assembled at the Emerson Borough Council meeting, many in favor of an ordinance that would ban the sale of puppy mill dogs. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE
Vincent Sacco, owner of Just Pups, at the May 17 meeting.
Vincent Sacco, owner of Just Pups, at the May 17 meeting. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE
Robert Obernauer at the May 17 meeting.
Robert Obernauer at the May 17 meeting. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE

EMERSON, N.J. – The Borough Council introduced an ordinance Wednesday night that would ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in Emerson.

“We are on top of it,” Mayor Lou Lamatina said. “We feel strongly about it as a council.”

The measure passed by a 4-0 vote. Next comes a June 14 public hearing on the issue, which could be followed by a final vote the same night.

The timing wasn't fast enough for those who gathered, some of whom are part of a group protesting every Wednesday and Saturday outside Just Pups, a Kinderkamack Road shop owned by Vincent LoSacco. He has been hit with hundreds of violations for incidents at his stores in Paramus and East Brunswick.

Similar ordinances have been enacted in 42 other New Jersey towns.

Borough Attorney Wendy Rubinstein reminded the crowd that Emerson is moving as fast as state law allows.

“There are different standards for different issues,” Lamatina said. “Our issue is license application.”

The proposed ordinance would make it illegal for a pet store or kennel in Emerson to sell a dog from a puppy mill. It would require every such operation to show where its animals come from.

A license to operate a kennel or pet shop has to be re-issued every year, as of July 1, Rubinstein said. The ordinance, if approved next month, would become effective July 1.

LoSacco read a statement in his own defense, after which he suddenly left. He said he brought proof that his dog breeding kennel is a Missouri state-licensed animal care facility and left it with the borough administrator.

All accusations about his shop mistreating puppies “are completely unproven,” LoSacco said.

Appropriate research should have been done “before the angry mob took to the streets with lying signs and false accusations to slander and harm me and my family,” he said.

Courtney Woznicki presented a petition objecting to the alleged practices at Just Pups. It was signed by 128 residents of Emerson and another 50 in neighboring towns.

“This is a sad situation that remains an embarrassment to this town,” Woznicki said.

Also speaking were Robike Nolls-Faries of Westwood and Robert Obernauer, who questioned the local health department’s assessment of the situation at Just Pups.

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