City con­sid­ers out­law­ing the sale of dogs, cats and rab­bits at pet stores fol­low­ing a wave of con­cern from an­i­mal-rights groups and res­i­dents

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - DAN FUMANO AND CH­ERYL CHAN dfu­mano@post­ chchan@post­

Van­cou­ver is mulling a ban on the sale of dogs, cats and rab­bits at pet stores, a city coun­cil­lor said Mon­day.

City staff are re­search­ing a pos­si­ble ban on the sale of the pets at re­tail stores, Vi­sion Van­cou­ver Coun. Heather Deal said Mon­day, fol­low­ing a wave of con­cern from res­i­dents about a pet store that opened last month in Mar­pole.

“When the store opened on South Granville re­cently, we heard from a lot of peo­ple that they were re­ally con­cerned about it,” Deal said. “I’m a huge an­i­mal lover and it made sense to me to look into a ban, so we’ve got our staff do­ing re­search right now ... and we ex­pect to hear back from them shortly.”

The shop, Granville Pet and Gar­den, opened in early May and sells cats and dogs, in ad­di­tion to fish and birds, and small an­i­mals such as ham­sters and guinea pigs.

The sale of dogs and cats is a prob­lem for an­i­mal-rights ac­tivists like Kathy Pow­el­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Paws for Hope An­i­mal Foun­da­tion, who is call­ing on Van­cou­ver to fol­low neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in cre­at­ing a by­law that would pro­hibit the sale of cer­tain pets at stores.

Pow­el­son has spo­ken with the shop’s owner, whose pre­vi­ous store, Pet Habi­tat in Burnaby, was also a source of con­tro­versy. Pow­el­son re­cently met with Deal, as well as Vi­sion Van­cou­ver Coun. An­drea Reimer, to dis­cuss the pos­si­ble ban, she said, and they seemed re­cep­tive.

“We are cau­tiously op­ti­mistic at this point,” Pow­el­son said. Pow­el­son’s group has given pre­sen­ta­tions to other mu­nic­i­pal govern­ments about ban­ning for-profit re­tail sales of live pets, ar­gu­ing the busi­ness plan sup­ports puppy and kit­ten mills, where an­i­mals are raised in in­hu­mane con­di­tions.

But Granville Pet and Gar­den owner Ernest Ang said his store doesn’t source an­i­mals from mills. “Ab­so­lutely not,” he said in a phone in­ter­view from the Philip­pines, where he was sourc­ing trop­i­cal fish that could be bred do­mes­ti­cally. “It’s very up­set­ting when they say all pet stores use puppy mills.”

Ang said he uses a U.S. com­pany that sources dogs from USDA-ap­proved fa­cil­i­ties. He sources most of the kit­tens from lo­cal, smallscale breed­ers. Two years ago, the store started get­ting dogs from cer­ti­fied small-scale breed­ers in South Korea through a vet­eri­nar­ian they work with.

His an­i­mals are healthy and well taken care of, said Ang, invit­ing his crit­ics and the pub­lic to come in and take a look at the fa­cil­i­ties. He ob­jects to al­le­ga­tions his an­i­mals are ne­glected. “If what we sell are de­fec­tive, what will my cus­tomers do to me? My busi­ness would close in three days.”

Ang, who has been in the pet busi­ness since 1978, said he moved to the new Mar­pole lo­ca­tion at the re­quest of many cus­tomers who wanted more space for their dogs. The new store has a large yard in the back, where clients can bring in their pets to so­cial­ize and play with other pet own­ers.

He said he would have no prob­lem work­ing with the city to en­sure or im­prove the wel­fare of an­i­mals in pet stores: “If there are rec­om­men­da­tions, we’d go be­yond what they re­quire.”

The So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals has sup­ported such re­tail pet-sales bans in the past, rec­om­mend­ing peo­ple con­sider shel­ters or res­cues as their first op­tions in­stead of go­ing to a pet store or buy­ing on­line, said B.C. SPCA spokes­woman Lorie Chortyk.

“In an ideal world, we would rather that peo­ple know where their an­i­mals are com­ing from, and know they come from re­spon­si­ble breed­ers, where at­ten­tion is be­ing paid to the wel­fare of all the an­i­mals,” Chortyk said. “You just don’t have that guar­an­tee when you’re buy­ing from a pet store.”

Sim­i­lar by­laws have been en­acted else­where. In 2010, the SPCA hailed the City of Rich­mond for be­com­ing the first ju­ris­dic­tion in Canada to ban the sale of pup­pies in pet stores. Three Rich­mond pet stores banded to­gether and launched a le­gal ac­tion seek­ing to quash the Rich­mond by­law, but a B.C. Supreme Court judge dis­missed the pe­ti­tion in 2011, up­hold­ing the by­law and find­ing it to be rea­son­able, in good faith, and en­acted by coun­cil for a valid rea­son.

Other cities across Canada have fol­lowed suit. When the City of Ot­tawa adopted a by­law last year ban­ning the for-profit sale of cats and dogs in pet stores, the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of Hu­mane So­ci­eties re­leased a state­ment call­ing the by­law “a big step for­ward in the fight against puppy and kit­ten mills.”

This cat is for sale at Granville Pet and Gar­den, which is be­lieved to be the only store in Van­cou­ver sell­ing cats and dogs. An­i­mal-rights groups want the city to ban pet sales.


Pro­test­ers gather out­side the Granville Pet and Gar­den store in Van­cou­ver on Satur­day.


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