DITMARS — A pet shop, groomers and doggie day care will soon close its doors after a decade in the neighborhood — the result of a drop in foot traffic and struggle to keep up with onerous city regulations, its owner says.
The Jumping Bulldog has two locations within blocks of one another at 28-10 and 26-20 23rd Ave., one devoted to grooming and selling pet food, leashes and other supplies and the other for boarding and day care.
Both will shutter by the end of the month after 10 years in business, according to owner Tania Firrigno, who called the move "a very difficult decision."
"There's very little foot traffic," she said, as more customers have opted to buy their pet supplies online. "Internet is no competition for small business — you can't compete."
She also attributed the shop's closure to the number of regulations the city requires for pet grooming facilities, which Firrigno describes as burdensome.
"The city has made it really impossible to do business on the up and up," she said.
She specifically pointed to a rule put in place a few years ago that requires dog be vaccinated against bordetella — commonly known as kennel cough — every six months, despite the fact that the vaccine is good for one year.
The rule forced The Jumping Bulldog to turn away clients whose dogs only got the vaccine annually, Firrigno explained.
"We lost a lot of business because of that," she said. "People don’t want to over-vaccinate their pets."
The Health Department did not respond to inquiries about the vaccination policy, though a rep for the Department of Small Business Services said the agency offers free consultations to help businesses comply with city rules.
A DOH spokeswoman said both Jumping Bulldog locations were inspected twice in recent months — on Feb. 7 and March 29 — and passed both times. One of the locations was issued a notice for a paperwork discrepancy, the spokeswoman said.
"We've always done everything on the up and up," said Firrigno. "We've always been very transparent and we’ve gone by the book."
In addition to pet supplies and grooming, the store has been active in animal welfare over the years — donating food and other goods to rescue groups and helping to find adopters for homeless pets, according to Firrigno.
Her decision to close the business, announced on The Jumping Bulldog's Facebook earlier this month, elicited a number of responses from upset pet owners.
"The Jumping Bulldog was the first place I took my dog when we first rescued him to get his supplies," one fan wrote. "It is such a special place."
Firrigno said reading customers responses brought her to tears.
"The outpouring — It blew me away. People are really upset," she said.
"I owe everything to my customers," she added, saying she's treasured getting to know each of their furry companions. "It's like watching your friends' kids grow up. And that’s just something you don’t get in any other business."