MADISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The way you bring home a new puppy or kitten could soon be changing in New Jersey.

It’s all in an effort to put an end to puppy mill breeding in the area, but as CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, protecting our puppies is creating a major dog fight.

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The big eyed, tiny balls of fur, hoping you’ll choose them from behind the pet store glass can be hard to resist.

Just ask Desire Sosa. She fell for a pet shop pup — Sammy a 6-month-old lab.

“He was so loving,” she said.

But if New Jersey lawmakers have their way, you won’t have the same option.

“New Jersey would be the first to do a statewide ban on the commercial sale of dogs and cats,” Heather Cammisa said.

Cammisa, with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center said other states will likely follow suit.

It’s not a moment too soon for animal advocates who cite countless cases of alleged animal cruelty at the hands of pet shops like ‘Just Pups’ in Paramus which recently made headlines for leaving dozens of dogs in a freezing cold van overnight.

The legislation could spell the beginning of the end for substandard breeders or puppy mills as they’re called.

“A responsible breeder never sells their animal third-party,” she said.

Carlos Rosario is a former pet shop employee. He said he’s still traumatized by what he witnessed including dogs arriving from mills on trucks with no ventilation or sanitation.

“I was there for about four months, until I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.

He said employees were forced to feed the pups meds just to get them fit enough for sale.

“It was like a shop of horrors,” he said.

Private investigator Lenny Golino said legislation banning the commercial sale of animals is the only way to put an end to practices like this because it cuts demand.

“It’s extreme. It’s the animal rights activists pushing legislation,” he said.

But Cindy Knowles, owner of Furrylicious Pet Shops in New York and New Jersey said she only sells puppies from the best breeders. She insists that the already strict regulations in the Tri-State area are enough to weed out the bad guys.

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Knowles said the new proposal will put everyone out of business.

“That doesn’t make any sense and consumers want a choice,” she said.

Sosa, who bought Sammy from a different store in Westchester, said she didn’t choose to buy a puppy that was so sick that he would have to be put to sleep.

“I thought I was taking home a completely healthy dog,” she said.

She doesn’t want other dogs and owners to go through the same thing.

“He was just born and he wanted to have a good life, and that’s all I thought I was going to give him,” she said.

The commercial ban would allow pet shops to sell shelter or rescue animals.

The American Kennel Club told CBS2 in a statement that limiting pet choice can be bad for pets and owners.

Full Statement From The American Kennel Club:

“The AKC believes the best way for a person to obtain a new pet is through personal interaction with a pet’s breeder and the pet under consideration. This helps a prospective pet buyer find a pet that is a good fit for their lifestyle.

However, finding a local breeder isn’t always possible for everyone. Regulated pet shops provide a safe and legitimate option for new pet owners who want a specific breed of pet with predictable type, temperament, care requirements and health checks; that has been bred by a licensed and regulated professional; and is subject to NJ’s consumer protection laws.

The AKC opposes S 63 because it would remove that option. It repeals excellent new consumer protection laws put in place last session to protect people. S 63 harms consumers by prohibiting pet stores from sourcing pets from licensed and regulated professional breeders, and instead requiring them to provide only pets from shelter or rescue distributors. These sources are not licensed or regulated, not subject to consumer protection laws, and cannot guarantee health or temperament histories of the animals.

As a not-for profit organization dedicated to the wellbeing of all dogs, AKC is also the largest purebred rescue network in the country. We strongly support responsible rescue for needy animals. However, a rescue pet is not appropriate for everyone. Many have special needs and requirements that may not fit into the owner’s lifestyle or care abilities.

When a person cannot obtain a pet that is a good fit for their lifestyle, that animal is more likely to end up in a shelter. The AKC wants to keep pets out of shelters and in loving homes.”

Advocates are urging dog lovers to weigh in on the fight.

For complaints, go to:

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