BELLMORE - A new proposal would impose stricter laws on pet shops in the Town of Hempstead.

The legislation would require all pets over 8 weeks old to be spayed or neutered before being sold. It calls for sprinkler systems in case of fires and 100 square feet of retail space per animal.

Stores would also have to buy their animals only from certified "Class-A" breeders.

Pet shop owners in the Town of Hempstead say the proposed law would put them out of business.

Animal rights activists say that stores selling dogs bred in puppy mills are inhumane. They say the proposed law would be a step toward better treatment for animals and accountability for those who sell them.

Lawyers for pet shop owners say that the new space requirements would limit the average-sized store to stocking only a half dozen dogs at a time.

They also say that the requirement to buy animals directly from breeders would be difficult. Pet shops under the current rules usually hire a procurement service to pick up dogs from breeders and deliver them to the stores.

The town board postponed a vote on the proposal to give lawmakers time to gather more information.