Berkley bans sale of pets, current business will continue to operate

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 3, 2023

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BERKLEY — An ordinance to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in Berkley was passed by the City Council.

Approved at its Sept. 18 meeting, the law prohibits a retail pet store in Berkley from selling and adopting dogs, cats and rabbits. The ordinance goes into effect Oct. 18.

City Attorney John Staran said the ordinance also would prevent the expansion and the relocation of any stores in Berkley.

In regard to the retail pet store, Puppygram, at 28297 Woodward Ave., that’s been operating in the city since February, Staran said the business would be “temporarily” grandfathered in to stay open.

According to a city press release, the new ordinance “enables a retail pet store already operating in the city and in compliance and good standing with applicable state laws and city ordinances that is selling dogs, cats and rabbits to continue to do so at its current location for the duration of its current lease and any optional lease extension at the time of the ordinance adoption.

“By temporarily … it would correspond to the store’s lease as it currently exists. So they’d be allowed to continue for the duration of their current lease. And then that’s it,” Staran said.

City Manager Matt Baumgarten elaborated to the Woodward Talk that if Puppygram enters into a new lease agreement at its location, the sale of pets would not be allowed.

The new ordinance also states, under its section that prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, that the section doesn’t ban a retail pet store from working with an animal protection or control shelter to showcase those pets available for adoption on a not-for-profit basis. The pet store is prohibited though from charging or retaining a fee for providing space to showcase these pets.

Puppygram CEO Miles Handy said he’s happy to be able to move on. He also confirmed the business’ lease is five years with an optional extension for five years.

“We’re just happy that we’re able to work out an agreement to fulfill our lease obligations and move forward,” he said. “It’s been very stressful and been a difficult situation.”

Baumgarten stated the council is working on putting a license in place for pet stores that would require them to turn over information to the city such as health reports, acquisition reports and information on what breeding programs they work with.

“Council is talking about making that part of a permitting process, but they’ve not started the conversation on what that’s gonna look like just yet, but there is a part two to this coming,” he said.

The council approved the ordinance 6-0 at the meeting. Councilman Dennis Hennen said the possibility of Puppygram operating for 10 years isn’t where any of them want to be.

He said if the city does find cases of the business “fabricating information” or not following the city’s ordinances, then the city has the power and the legal basis to shut it down.

“I don’t believe that they’re ethical, but we don’t have the hard proof that we could win in a court,” he said. “If we develop that, then we’re where we need to be and can take care of this problem, but none of us want to be here. … It’s not where I want it to be, but it’s where we have to be for right now.”