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The New Jersey Senate's new bill is a huge win for rescue animals

I’m a Florida native into all things food and wine related. I love dogs, cooking, comedy and Chicago sports — especially baseball — and my spirit animal is Ina Garten.

Puppy mills, your days are numbered

If you're from New Jersey, it's time for you to call your senator... and thank them. The New Jersey Senate approved a bill last week that would require pet stores licensed after Jan. 12, 2016, to sell only rescue and shelter cats and dogs. High-five, New Jersey!

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The U.S. currently has a major problem with puppy mills and overpopulation. The ASPCA estimates that approximately 3.9 million dogs pass through shelters every year and that 1.2 million dogs are euthanized when they cannot be adopted. According to the Humane Society, at least 10,000 puppy mills produce more than 2.4 million animals a year, while less than 3,000 of the mills are regulated by the Department of Agriculture. The lack of regulation and concern for the animals' well-being often results in horrific living conditions for the dogs at these mills. Dogs are forced to live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that result in painful and sometimes fatal injuries.

Although New Jersey's new bill will only apply to pet stores who obtain licenses after Jan. 12, meaning older operating stores won't be affected, this is still a huge step towards ending puppy mills and their inhumane mistreatment of animals in exchange for profits. Senator Raymond Lesniak, who introduced the bill, agrees:

“These puppy mills have gained a notorious reputation for putting profits ahead of the humane treatment of dogs and cats. Their mass breeding has created inbred health and behavioral problems and the inhumane conditions have left too many of these pets to suffer from neglect and mistreatment.”

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New Jersey isn't the first state to enact laws aimed at cracking down on puppy mills. So far, retail pet stores have been banned in one or more cities in each of these states:

We may still have a long way to go, but for now, we have New Jersey to give us hope that a nationwide end to puppy mills is coming our way. OK, one more time... high-five, New Jersey!

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