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Christian Browne

Christian Browne Represents Pet Shop Owners in Challenging Proposed Town Ordinance

Christian Browne, a Partner with the firm, is representing three pet shops — Worldwide Puppies and Kittens in Bellmore, The Puppy Store in North Merrick and Love My Puppies in Wantagh — before the Hempstead Town Board to challenge a proposed ordinance that he says would burden these stores with unnecessary regulations designed to put them out of business.

On September 8, the Town Board held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance, which would require pet shops located in unincorporated areas of the town to have all dogs and cats spayed or neutered; install sprinkler systems and fire alarms inside the store; and purchase only from “Class A” breeders (meaning no middlemen or delivery services).

Mr. Browne says all pet stores in the Town of Hempstead are currently regulated by Nassau County, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New York State Agricultural and Markets Law, so the proposed ordinance would be another layer of government and, in the end, put these stores out of business. Particularly onerous is the proposed requirement that Class A breeders be used as the point of purchase. However, according to Mr. Browne, these stores are already responsible for checking any incoming pets for sale with Class A breeders — many of which are out of state — with the USDA database to ensure they are not puppy mills and they are not being prosecuted or having sanctions taken against them by the USDA.

In addition, any new store or existing store that is undergoing expansion or renovation would be required to provide 100 square feet of space per dog. Mr. Browne says that this requirement would make it economically impossible to operate, given the high retail rental rates in the town.

After the public hearing, the Town Board reserved its decision.

"Under this proposed rule, a typical mom-and-pop pet store would only be able to carry six to 10 animals and that is not a viable business model,” Mr. Browne says. “These owners would have to drive hours away directly to breeding farms where the dogs originate instead of being able to buy through what is essentially a service that procures the animal for the store and transports them."

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