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