Position Statements

AHS Believes in Advocating for All Animals.

As the animal protection movement expands and advances, animal sheltering organizations are increasingly becoming involved in important policy discussions that impact not just companion animals, but also animals who suffer in various industries, such as food production, research, and captive wildlife.

AHS participates in policy discussions and advocacy because of our passion for helping animals pairs with our expertise, firsthand experience, and commitment to animal welfare to put us in a unique and qualified position to be their voice. We encourage our supporters throughout the state to join us in advocating on all levels of government—local, county, state, and federal—for stronger protections for all animals.

Advocating for animals with our elected leaders and other public officials, such as law enforcement and regulatory agencies, can lead to more informed, compassionate, and effective policies that alleviate social ills, better allocate limited resources, and better protect and improve the lives of animals in our society, as well as the people in the community who care about them.

Animal shelters work closely with other organizations, such as veterinary clinics, rescue groups, other animal control agencies, and national animal protection organizations, forming a network of expertise and collaboration. By engaging in public policy discussions, shelters can foster partnerships and alliances that strengthen the collective efforts towards animal welfare, leading to more comprehensive and impactful policies. We invite you review our position statements on important matters impacting literally billions of animals and to join us in our mission to help animals.

Below you can review AHS’ position statements on various issues such as puppy mills, community cats, hunting, food production, and other items impacting animals. We also will update our website and social media channels when AHS engages on new advocacy efforts regarding local ordinances or proposed state legislation in Trenton. For more information or other inquiries, please email our Director of Government and Community Relations at bhackett@ahsppz.org. 

Position Statements:

Pet Stores

AHS strongly opposes puppy mills, commercial breeding, and retail pet sales. Pet stores that sell live animals usually source from these concerning entities which number in the thousands around the country. Puppy mills are commercial kennels where animals are bred for the pet store market and little attention is given to their welfare. Not effectively managed and under lax enforcement by the USDA, they usually fail to provide a humane standard of care for the animals’ physical and behavioral needs, while producing many breeds of dogs for the majority of pet stores. In addition to many documented physical ailments, puppy mill animals often display antisocial behaviors because of early removal from their mothers and littermates. We educate consumers that they should NEVER purchase an animal through a pet shop, sight-unseen, or online. 


AHS supports and encourages the humane business model for pet shops and retailers. This humane model involves providing consumers products for their pets, as well as offering an array of services for the animals. It does not include the sale of live animals, especially cats, dogs, and rabbits. Many of these stores collaborate with shelters and rescues to showcase adoptable animals available. It is noteworthy that 24 of the 25 largest pet retail companies in the United States refuse to sell cats, dogs, and rabbits. According to NJ.com, over 100 New Jersey pet shops have signed the humane pet store pledge promoted by the Humane Society of the United States. At present publication, there are 17 pet shops still existing in New Jersey that source from puppy mills and sell to unsuspecting consumers. 

Community Cats

AHS strongly supports Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) policies that appropriately balance public health, animal welfare, and community concerns through humanely reducing the population of outdoor, unsocialized cats. Through TNVR, best efforts are made by the animal shelter and community partners to remove adoptable kittens from the streets, while the adult cats, who have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped, are returned to their outdoor homes to live out their lives with their feline families. Many of these cats have dedicated caregivers, who provide food and outdoor shelter with their own resources. TNVR programs humanely reduce cat populations, address many causes of nuisance complaints, ensure public health by vaccinating animals, and saves limited shelter resources. It is no longer operationally feasible, nor is it socially accepted, to indiscriminately round up cats to hold for seven days and be euthanized. Doing so is not only inhumane, but a waste of very limited resources.

AHS opposes standalone municipal cat feeding bans because they are antiquated, ineffective, inhumane, and often counterproductive. Instead, we are committed to working with municipalities to ensure they have updated, comprehensive community cat policies that balance important considerations of public health, animal welfare, and community concerns. We acknowledge state law as it relates to outdoor cats: according to the New Jersey Department of Health. Cats are considered a domestic animal species and are therefore protected under the State’s animal cruelty and animal control statutes.


AHS supports legislation to ban elective declaw procedures because these serious surgical procedures should not be performed merely for sake of convenience for the human companion. Pending legislation would allow declaw, also known as onychectomy, only if deemed medically necessary for the health reasons of the feline patient, such as if a tumor exists in the nail bed. Since declawing inhibits a cat’s normal means of movement and defense, behavioral impacts can also result. Documented effects of declawing include interference with litterbox use. Other cats may resort to biting because they have been stripped of their primary defense mechanism. Declawing fundamentally hinders a cat’s natural instincts to use their claws to stretch, scratch, and mark territory.

There is no evidence that declawing reducing shelter admissions — in fact, the behavioral implications, such as problems with litterbox use and biting, are common reasons cats are surrendered. Furthermore, all major animal protection organizations oppose declawing, along with federal government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which note that declawing does not protect immunocompromised individuals. Thus far, dozens of countries and cities around the world have banned elective declaw procedures, as have Maryland and New York.

Animals in Agriculture

AHS recognizes the sentience of all animals and believes that animals should not be subjected to physical suffering, harm, and emotional distress. We work towards creating a more humane world, starting right at home in the communities we serve. Our Popcorn Park Animal Refuge is home to several rescued farm animals such as pigs and cows. In honor of them, and the billions of animals they each represent in the food animal industry, we encourage the thoughtful consideration of our eating choices in consideration of more compassionate non-animal sources of food whenever possible.   

For example, we support programs such as “Meatless Mondays” which help people give up animal products one day each week. Doing so saves millions of animals and gallons of water used to produce those products each year. When we reflect upon the production methods in animal agriculture, organic and free-range sustainable operations are preferred because of better animal care and environmental sustainability. We believe government assistance programs such as SNAP should allow recipients to utilize their benefits on healthier, organic options such as cage-free eggs because everyone deserves the right to access healthy options. AHS joins dozens of state, national, and international animal protection and environmental organizations in opposing factory farming methods, such as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These CAFOs present myriad problems for animal welfare, the environment, and social justice concerns for the communities in which they exist. 

Animals in Research

Subjecting animals to testing for toxicity, cosmetics, and other reasons is cruel and often unnecessary because of alternative methods available. AHS has supported laws to prohibit cosmetic testing on animals. New Jersey, New York, California, and several other U.S. states and the European Union have already done passed such measures. There are many alternative processes to certify safety of these products which do not require inhumane testing on animals. Many businesses have taken the cruelty-free pledge. We also support laws to restrict public funding of animal research and encourage funding of more reliable, science based non-animal alternatives in this area.  

For more information about concerns presented by the $20 billion per year animal testing industry, the Anti-Vivisection Society and the White Coat Waste Project investigations, exposes, and research on these issues are compelling and eye opening for anyone who cares about animals.  

Captive Animals

AHS opposes all circuses that use animals in any of their acts because they ultimately exploit animals for human entertainment and economic gain. Contrary to reputable zoos and wildlife refuges, circuses do not serve to educate people about wild animals, nor do they protect endangered species. Rather than instill in the general public an increased appreciation and compassion for animals, circuses fail to provide captive animals with a humane standard of care that requires the creation of natural habitats, ample area for exercise and socialization, appropriate diets, and suitable climatic controls. Further, some circuses use abusive training techniques including bull hooks, whips, chains, clubs, and electric shock to force animals to perform out of fear of punishment. New Jersey does not permit a dozen species of animals to be used in circuses and traveling shows, but does permit accredited non-mobile institutions, such as AHS, to conduct animal demonstrations for purposes of education about conservation and the environment.

AHS has serious concerns about the horse racing industry practices in New Jersey. Not only do the same class of problems posed by dog racing present themselves in horse racing, but we question whether it is good policy to pour millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up this practice—all at the expense of many other social programs worthy of those dollars. If New Jersey continues to subsidize the racing industry, it must too equally subsidize the care, rescue, and rehabilitation of racing horses so they do not end up at cruel slaughter auctions. Some horses who are maimed or too old to race are either euthanized, sent to research laboratories or slaughterhouses, or sold at auction. Some are kept on the track through the use of performance-enhancing drugs and abusive training techniques.

Local, state, and federal legislators must pass and strictly enforce laws protecting racing horses. Citizens can help by writing to their legislators, insisting on responsible and humane practices, alerting authorities to abuses, and not attending or betting on racing events.

AHS opposes rodeos because, similarly to circuses, animals are exploited merely for human entertainment, are forced to perform dangerous acts, and animals can be injured or maimed. Typical rodeo events include bucking contests, calf and steer roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding. AHS opposes rodeos because it is inherently cruel to force animals by means of spurs, sharpened sticks, electric prods, flank straps, and other means to unwillingly endure entertainment events causing pain, injury, and, in some instances, death. While rodeos are typically held in western states, there is one long standing rodeo in New Jersey which is a relic of a bygone century.

Fur and Hunting

AHS opposes the killing of animals for purposes of sport, trophies, recreation, or entertainment. Hunting for population management purposes should only be done as a last resort after any and all non-lethal approaches are fully applied. Hunting for purposes of reducing human-animal conflicts misguided and unnecessary when humans control their behavior, such as ensuring proper trash management in areas known to be frequented by wildlife, such as black bears in the northwestern areas of New Jersey. While we do not encourage it, we do not oppose extensively regulated sustenance hunting in which the animals killed are utilized for food and do not perish in vain. 

AHS opposes the production and sale of products containing animal fur. Fur farming, especially as exposed on international fur farms, is horrifically cruel. Not only is wearing animal fur totally unnecessary, but the production of it also often results in a gruesome death of the animals by bludgeoning and/or anal electrocution. Some animals are not fully incapacitated when they are skinned. The breeding farms for these animals force them to endure unsanitary conditions in small wire cages with little sustenance and no natural abilities of movement or socialization with other animals. The entirety of the fur industry is cruel from start to finish. We stand in solidarity with other organizations around the world working to transition fur farmers into other more humane, sustainable enterprises. We also support and encourage the many companies recognizing consumer demand and have gone fur free, which includes many luxury designers such as Versace and Gucci. 

Photo at Statehouse with the following caption: 

AHS applauded the passage of A.1970/S.1298, legislation which prohibits the cruel intensive confinement of gestating sows and veal calves. The law, signed by Gov. Murphy in July 2023 requires the Department of Agriculture to promulgate regulations that put this statutory requirement for humane spacing into effect. 12 states ban either veal crates or gestation crates, or both. 

Interested in joining our advocacy team?

Email: advocacy@ahsppz.org for more information!