Q. I live in a brownstone in Carroll Gardens. My neighbors next door, who also own their single family townhome, keep five large dogs. The dogs have regular access to the rear garden through a doggie door. It’s not uncommon to hear them racing back and forth, barking, howling, and otherwise causing a major disturbance.
Are there any laws that prohibit keeping so many pets in one household?
A. There are generally two types of laws that govern the right to own pets: limit laws and zoning laws.
Limit laws set an outright prohibition on the number of pets that can be owned by one person or household in a municipality (e.g. “no person shall own more than two dogs”). They have on at least two occasions been found to be unconstitutional by courts in other states.
Zoning laws, on the other hand, work by regulating the number of pets that can be kept in a certain class of property (e.g. “two dogs per 1 – 4 dwelling” or “no limit for land zoned as farmland”) and have generally been upheld by the courts. Unfortunately for you, NYC has no limit or zoning laws regulating the number of pets that can be owned but other municipalities in NY State do have zoning laws. Apartment buildings may have may adopt their own policies, but that also doesn't help in your situation.
All is not necessarily lost, however.