FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP - A decision made by the owner of the Freehold Raceway Mall is being applauded by animal advocates nationwide.

The Macerich Company is banning the sale of live animals in more than 70 malls across the United States. The company says it will not renew the leases of any pet stores.

Macerich also announced that it will partner with the Monmouth County SPCA to open a humane store offering adoptions of rescued pets at the mall.

The model for the store, as well the campaign to raise some funds to cover the initial start-up expenses, was unveiled at the organization's annual Valentine's Brunch, which was held on Feb. 12.

Monmouth County SPCA