Pull the Plug on Animal Retailing

Surrey is urged to enact a bylaw to stop the retail sale of animals

Epifania Alarcon

If you are planning to buy an animal at a pet store—particularly a dog, cat, or rabbit—you may want to consider a few things first.

According to an article by Maple Ridge News, Kathy Powelson, Executive Director for the Paws for Hope Foundation, wants to see Surrey enact a bylaw to stop animal retailing in stores. She presented her request to Surrey City Council at their meeting on Sept. 11.

Other municipalities such as Richmond and New Westminster already have such bylaws in place. Vancouver is the latest city to enact a ban, and Surrey would be next if it were to follow suit. Although Powelson asked Burnaby to ban animal sales, nothing happened.

In her interview with Maple Ridge News, Powelson said that there’s a pet overpopulation issue in Surrey because selling animals increases the chance that they’ll end up in a shelter. While Surrey doesn’t sell puppies, Powelson wants the bigger pet store chains to stop selling cats and rabbits as well.

If people were only able to get their dogs, cats, or rabbits through an animal rescue and shelter or respectable breeder, it would decrease a pet’s chance of ending up alone. There are many heartless pet owners out there who would do that to their animals, and the proposed bylaw would decrease the chances of them being able to purchase an animal carelessly.

At the Surrey Council meeting, Councillor Bruce Hayne brought up the concept of banning the irresponsible breeders or puppy mills, instead of the pet stores. That idea may seem promising, but Powelson said it wouldn’t stop the stores from bringing animals in from outside of B.C. and Canada. In fact, in the Maple Ridge News article, she stated that provincial breeding regulation “wouldn’t touch the import issue,” and that importing animals is a largely federal issue.

Potential pet owners would be better off getting their pets through responsible breeders and animal shelters because they would be dealing with trustworthy people. SPCA’s chief enforcement officer, Marcie Moriarty, told the CBC that most breeders don’t want their pets sold in a store because they’d like to be in contact with the potential pet owners before they take an animal home. She also said that The Canadian Kennel Club doesn’t even sell through pet stores, whereas animals from unethical breeders and mills suffer a lot of neglect and abuse. They live in terrible conditions, so those who bought them would not be receiving healthy pets.

If the proposed bylaw is passed, animal rescue operations and ethical breeders will still be able to sell or give people animals for adoption. The important thing to remember is to be more aware of where your pets are coming from. You never know what happens to the animals you see in pet stores before they’re put up for sale.