Max Dogs / Shelter Proposal


DELAWARE TWP. — People couldn’t keep more than six adult dogs, or shelter more than two litters of puppies within 24 months, under an ordinance that aims to address “environmental concerns” — such as dog poop — and “public health nuisances” like noise, odor and insects.

The Board of Health ordinance has caught the eye of American Kennel Club breeders unhappy with the proposal. Board of Health Secretary Danene Gooding said today that she has been fielding calls and receiving faxes from throughout the state.

A crowd is expected at this evening’s meeting, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building.

Janet Cohen has bred Newfoundlands for 20 years and is also an AKC judge. She thinks the township should deal with issues one-on-one rather than subject all breeders to rules that she feels are arbitrary.

“We understand there are issues with a couple of people,” she said. But “90% of breeders are good people. It’s a job-and-a-half to breed these dogs.”

When she lived on Long Island, Cohen said she kept 14 dogs, and now has just three. She breeds, she said, to develop show dogs but hasn’t had a litter “for 22 months. This doesn’t apply to me,” but she still opposes it as an AKC breeder.

Cohen and her husband live on more than six acres, in a house she said is worth about $1.5 million. “The reason I bought this house is because there are no dog laws” in the township, she said.

If every municipality took this route when there were a few complaints about breeders in general, she said, responsible AKC breeders are hurt in the process.

She wonders how dog poop is any more harmful to the environment than the manure of farm animals or fecal matter deposited by wild animals.

New Jersey does require manure management plans for farms with a certain number of livestock “units.”

The local ordinance was drafted because of “environmental concerns” such as “intrusion into the ground water of fecal waste, phosphates and nitrates” and “public health nuisances” including noise, odor, and the potential for increased rodents, insects, bacteria and viral pathogens “related to the number of dogs maintained per household.”

That’s according to language in the introduced ordinance. If adopted, the ordinance would cap the number of grown dogs in a household at six. Anyone who has more than that could keep them up to 12 more years, but couldn’t replace a dog that is sold, given away or dies, if it would exceed the six-dog limit.

The limit wouldn’t include puppies 7 months old or younger, as long as the number of litters is within the allowed amount. And the ordinance wouldn’t apply to licensed kennels, pet shops, pounds or shelters, which would be subject to their own regulations.

The rules would be enforced by the animal control officer.

The ordinance was drafted after some residents complained about odors and noise at some breeders’ properties and questioned matters such as sanitation. The concept of regulation and then language was debated for more than a year. A subcommittee of the Board of Health, including a veterinarian on the board, met with local breeders.

Cohen said that a limit on litters is unreasonable in a household with six dogs. She said she wouldn’t breed her dogs younger than age 2, or older than 5, and “never more than three times in her life.

“This is an expensive hobby, it’s a lifestyle,” said Cohen, arguing that it therefore shouldn’t be subject to local restrictions. Her dogs are “treated better than some children,” she said.

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