Canada approves first ban on pet store puppy sales

14 10 2010

Richmond, Vancouver, became the first suburb in Canada to approve the ban the sale of pet store puppies on Tuesday night.  The move won’t be effective until April 2011, but may be the push needed to propel the rest of that country to follow suit.

Councilman Ken Johnson, who initiated the ban, acknowledges that the ban will not in itself end puppy mills.  “This is a step in the direction of sending the message to puppy mills that your practices are not acceptable,” he said.

The full Richmond Review story is below.

Richmond is well on its way to becoming the first city in Canada to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores.

On Tuesday night council unanimously approved third reading of an amended bylaw that would prohibit the sale of dogs from Richmond storefronts, effective April 30, 2011.

Bylaw proponents say the ban will limit impulse purchases and reduce the number of dogs bred in inhumane conditions without proper health care.

The ban was initiated by Coun. Ken Johnston.

“This will not end puppy mills, I get that. This is a step in the direction of sending the message to puppy mills that your practices are not acceptable,” Johnston said.

Other councillors hope the ban will encourage people to adopt puppies in desperate need of a good home.

“There will always be people who want specialty breeds, but people can go to shelters and the SPCA and rescue operations to obtain their pets,” said Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt.

Council has agreed to send a letter to provincial representatives emphasizing the urgent need for provincial regulations regarding the condition of dogs offered for sale.

Once the province comes forward with regulations, council may consider rescinding the bylaw.

The move was a victory for the dozens of animal rights activists who filled council chambers on Tuesday, many wearing red and white “Adopt don’t shop” tags.

B.C. SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk reiterated her support for the ban.

“What a ban would do is effectively remove one of the venues that (puppy mills) have to sell their dogs,” she said. “Without that venue their profits go down and I think it would actually discourage the industry.”

The amended bylaw would affect three local pet stores: Pet Habitat, PJ’s Pets and Pets Wonderland.

Local and regional pet store owners spoke before council in a last ditch effort to thwart the puppy ban.

Robert Church of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council said council is making a “huge mistake.”

“Why would you shut down the only visible source of puppies, the only source which the public, which the city and which animal protection officers are able to monitor? The vast majority of pets come from unregulated sources,” he said.

Church said it is not in pet stores’ best economic interest to buy from puppy mills.

“If there is a problem, for the most part, pet stores will pay the vet bills. We are on the hook if we deal with substandard breeders.”

The solution, he said, is to lobby the provincial government to establish an animal care act that licenses, regulates and inspects all breeders, pet stores and animal shelters.

Gary Batt of Petland in Surrey agreed, pointing to Manitoba’s recently enacted animal protection regulations. He said the puppy ban bylaw discriminates against just three stores and may be in contravention of fair trade practices and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Breeders, kennels, backyard breeders, etcetera, they are all exempt from the bylaw and may sell, but the pet store may not sell the very same puppy,” he said.

Ernest Ang, owner of Pet Habitat in Richmond Centre, said he is against cruelty to animals, that’s why he is in the pet business.

“There’s only three pet stores in Richmond and a lot of customers come to me and say ‘Why are you guys being targeted? You’re doing a good job.'”

He suggested working with the city, B.C. SPCA and the Richmond Animal Protection Society to find a better solution.

The puppy ban bylaw still needs to undergo a series of public consultations.

Related stories can be found in The Epoch Times, The British Columbia SPCA news, and The Vancouver Sun.

We find it interesting that pet store owner Ernest Ang says that the ban is “unfair.”  Evidently, he does not purchase his puppies from puppy mills, but from a “reputable USDA licensed kennel in the United States.”

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4 responses

8 11 2010
Vic

“Why would you shut down the only visible source of puppies, the only source which the public, which the city and which animal protection officers are able to monitor? The vast majority of pets come from unregulated sources”

Is the public so naive as to believe this statement? Robert Church owns at least one Petland in Calgary. Of course he would say that. He doesn’t even own a dog.

Pet stores are NOT a visible source of puppies. The only visible “source of puppies” is a reputable breeder and/or rescue organizations. That should be common knowledge to the public. Sadly, it is not and hopefully this ban will open people’s eyes.
Just search the internet on what to look for in a reputable breeder and you shall see. Pet stores meet none of this criteria.
In fact, I used to work at a pet store not too long ago and I will give you the good and the ugly of buying a puppy from a pet store.
The only good point I can come up with is that if the puppies have been there a decent amount of time, they become well socialized with children. At least this was the case in the store I worked in.
Now it is onto the bad. I will try and keep my points brief. Firstly, pet store prices of puppies are extremely overpriced, especially for what you are paying for. In the one I worked at, puppies ranged from $1100 to $3700, most of them cross breeds. And for what? Nothing special. Yeah, they may have a $1000 one year health warranty, but what is that going to do when the majority of health problems arise after the first year and would cost more than $1000 to fix anyway? A reputable breeder will also have a health guarantee, but they are checking the health of the parents BEFORE they breed as to not pass down any hereditary defects that are common in many breeds. Pet stores do not care if your Chihuahua’s parents has a heart murmur. The responsible breeder will also stick by you for advice and care about your dog throughout its lifetime. If you want someone who will rip you off and then once that first year is over say “bye-bye”, then go with a pet store.
Secondly, the majority of dogs at pet stores are sick. At this store common diseases were Giardia or Coccidia, or both. One set of pups were not allowed to come out because they had Giardia for a month as they kept re-infecting themselves due to eating their own faeces. If they were not in wire-bottomed cages, they would not have eaten their own faeces. Some pups even had Parvo. I will not disclose what happened to those dogs. A responsible breeder would not sell you a sick puppy, nor have sick puppies in the first place.
My third point was kind of handed to me by Robert Church as he so kindly pointed out, they are doing this for economical reasons as “it is not in pet stores’ best economic interest”. Well, I think we can guess what I am going to say. It goes without saying that of course they are there to make a profit. Why would you trust the well-being of an animal on someone who exploits puppies for a living? Responsible breeders take a lot of time and consideration in planning their litters and often do not make a profit out of breeding. They breed simply to better the breed, that is how purebred dogs came about in the first place. The simple joy of making a beautiful creature that is man’s best friend.
Next point I shall make is one on impulse. Pet stores do not care if you want their $2000 Burnese Mountain Dog and live in an apartment. Often times, people would walk into the store, sit down in the “play room” with a puppy and half an hour later they are walking out the door with it. I would say about 25% of those dogs came back. How traumatic is that for the animal? To go from the supplier to the pet store to a home and back to the pet store and then ultimately into another home? Very stressful. With a responsible breeder, the breeder will often help you decide on which puppy in the litter, based on its temperament and what suits you best. You will often visit the puppies to see their temperaments and different stages of development, see where they are being raised and meet the parents. There is nothing to hide and you get to spend a lot of time in preparing and making sure that the breed, and even a dog is right for you.
I mentioned in my last point about responsible breeders having nothing to hide. You get to meet the parents, meet the breeder, meet the puppies as they grow, see their environment that helps to shape them. When you go to a pet store, what do you get? You get a certificate with the names, ages and weights of the mother and father on there. That is pretty useless information and that is all you will ever know about where your puppy came from. If you ask where your puppy comes from at a pet store, they will often say “a reputable breeder” and won’t disclose the breeders name or information. This is what we were told to say. If there was nothing to hide then why not tell the buyers?
My last point sort of ties up all my points in a personal account. There were puppies (and still are) that would sell for $2400 a pup. These pups were tiny and would come from the same breeder each time. They came every time we ran out of supply. Often times, the pups would become Hypoglycaemic within a couple of days and have to be rushed to the vet. Apart from the obvious reasons why a small pup would become Hypoglycaemic in a pet store, it was because the dogs had a hereditary disorder where it was difficult for them to metabolize their food. Instead of discontinuing the use of this breeder, the pet store continued to use this breeder. Why? Well they sold for 2400 bucks a pop that’s why.
It is ridiculous to call pet stores a “visible source of puppies” when it is quite the contrary. Just pop into your favourite search engine about any of your local pet stores and see what comes up about them. Countless stories and countless complaints.

I applaud the Council of Richmond for their efforts. It is a step in the right direction. We just have to look at some statistics from other cities that have gone before Richmond. “In Albuquerque, since the ban started, animal adoptions have increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent” (greenprophet.com). I can all assume that anyone who cares about animals wouldn’t argue that this is a great achievement.

If you want a dog, go to a rescue organization or a REPUTABLE breeder. Do your homework and don’t buy from a pet store, a back yard breeder or any other sub-standard source. You will thank yourself in the long-run.

6 12 2010
Helen

Wow, Vic. I agree with everything you wrote. That was one of the best responses I have read – and I have read a lot of them. I don’t know where you live, so just to let you know that on Nov 8, 2010 Richmond council voted to ban the sale of dogs and puppies in Richmond pet stores. We hope other jurisdictions will follow in their courageous footsteps.

13 01 2011
Alex

I know Pet habitat – in fact, I worked there and know 3 of the stores and the owner.
They dont care about anything but money. Most store owners/operators and staff have very limited knowledge and training (if any at all). 3 of them cant evenanswer simple questions about basic needs of animals kept in their stores.
It is all about making money – they do get pets from mills and really questionable sources. Their biggest puppy supplier (HUNTE) is a known puppy mill operation/DEALER.

19 02 2011
Kae

Vic, you made very valid points. PJ’s put dogs behind glass walls with little food and water. These dogs are stepping over each other and eating/sniffing each other’s faeces. Giardia, kennel cough and other illnesses are therefore passed through puppies and of course all these dogs are infested. PJ’s use their lame excuse of “it’s our policy” and throw their warranty on their customers. It’s all about business; they are inhumane and ethically and morally cruel!

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