TRENTON — The practice of renting a pet is a gubernatorial signature away from being eliminated in New Jersey.

Supporters of leasing said it lets potential pet owners experience what its like to have a pet and the potential expense. Opponents, however, said the terms of the leases can often be confusing and, worst of all, treats the animal as if they were a car.

“If you don’t pay your car payment, they can repossess your car. Believe it or not, some of these leases, you can repossess an animal as if it doesn’t have feelings, doesn’t have emotions. And it’s really just horrible for the animal and the consumer," Brian Hackett, the New Jersey state director for the Humane Society of the United States, previously told New Jersey 101.5.

A bill on Gov. Phil Murphy's desk, if approved, would make the leasing of pet illegal in New Jersey. In California, Nevada and New York, it's already banned.

A concern of the American Kennel Club about “preservation breeding,” when used responsibly to preserve specific bloodlines and breeds of dogs, was addressed in the final version. The final version also made leasing legal when animals are used for guide dogs, security dogs, law enforcement dogs and other assistance animals.

The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously by a 37-0 vote and the Assembly 72-2, imposes a $10,000 fine for a first offense and $30,000 for each subsequent violation.

If the governor signs the bill, it would take effect immediately.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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