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LoHud: Mamaroneck considering regulations on village pet shops

-Violations would be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and result in fines of $250 to $1,000

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Christopher J. Eberhart, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 12:22 p.m. EST February 19, 2016

Mamaroneck is considering regulations on village pet shops that could set a precedent in the state, some experts say.

Under the proposed legislation, village pet shop owners could only obtain dogs and cats from rescue shelters or humane societies in Westchester County or those that are registered with the New York State Department of Agriculture.

The proposed law targets puppy and kitten mills by imposing a village-wide ban on the sale of commercially-bred dogs and cats. Violations would be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and result in fines of $250 to $1,000.

“The law is needed to protect the puppies from the horrors of puppy mill breeding,” said Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who advocates for animals and who is helping Mayor Norm Rosenblum pro bono. “It protects consumers from purchasing unfit, defective animals that will cost them thousands of dollars more in veterinarian care.”

There's only one pet store in Mamaroneck: National Breeders at 154 Mamaroneck Ave. The store owner Kevin Casiraghi, who took over in early December, did not return calls for comment. The store was formerly owned by Richard Doyle of Mahopac.

The proposed legislation could have a ripple effect that goes beyond the small village. Elizabeth Oreck, the national manager of the nonprofit group Best Friends' puppy mill initiatives, said a similar law has been enacted in more than 100 localities across the country, but not one in New York.

"I can't think of anything I'd be more proud of than the Village of Mamaroneck being the leader in New York state to do this," said Mayor Norm Rosenblum, who proposed the law.

Because there isn't a model to mimic in the state, experts in the field, elected officials and attorneys have differing views on the legality of Mamaroneck’s proposed legislation and if it would survive a court appeal.

Brian Shapiro, the New York State director of The Humane Society of the United States, said a state law passed in 2014 allows local governments to regulate pet stores, but prevents them from banning the sale of commercially-raised cats and dogs.

But state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the 2014 state law, said that’s not the case.

“Under the law, local governments can prevent the sale of animals bred in puppy mills," Rosenthal said. "They just can’t preempt the sale of cats and dogs in their municipalities."

A representative from the attorney general’s office declined comment. Village Attorney Charles Goldberger said he's still researching the matter.

Trustee Leon Potok wants to hold off on a vote until more information can be obtained.

“I don't see how we can vote on a law without advice of counsel on whether it is likely to lead to litigation, the projected expense of such litigation and the likely outcome of such litigation,” Potok said in an email.

Rosenblum said he’ll push for a vote after a Feb. 22 public hearing.

“When you’re a responsible elected official, you can't be intimidated by what could happen. You can’t govern scared,” Rosenblum said. “I have full confidence that this law will stand any appeal.”

Tags: Puppy mill, Puppy lemon law, mayor norman rosenblum, pet stores