Thursday, October 7, 2010

Richmond BC Bans Sales Of Animals In Pet Stores...Can Ontario Be Far Behind?


Shutting down puppy mills was behind BC SPCA's push to see Richmond become Canada's first municipality to enact a bylaw banning the sale of dogs in pet stores, but the pet industry is pushing back.

Kristin Bryson, who is on the board of directors for the BC SPCA, said the organization is now encouraging other municipalities to follow Richmond's example. But one Ottawa-based organization, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council which represents 600 members across the country and approximately 50 in this province, is alarmed by the decision and fears it will spread not only in B.C. but nation-wide. The council, in fact, was so concerned with any  "province-wide initiative to ban the sale of pets in British Columbia pet stores" it sent an alert to its members advising B.C. pet businesses to "take a closer look at the different animal related organizations their company supports." "When there is a municipal bylaw passed it's a common reaction in any field that other municipalities will follow suit. I'm concerned with that," Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council's executive director Louis McCann told me today in an interview. "Our industry is wonderful when we give donations (to organizations like the SPCA) and when we don't we're the devil. My comment (in the alert sent to members) was to consider researching the source of the charities who approach them for funding." The alert specifically states: "Companies may find that some of the actions carried out by the groups they are supporting, could eventually shut down their operations! If so, do you really want to support them?" Bryson said the advisory council is "motivated by money," and preferred not to comment on the message being given pet businesses to carefully consider which animal groups they want to support.
She said the BC SPCA was pleased with the support shown by Richmond City Council, who also agreed to send a letter to the province and other municipalities  to consider similar prohibitions on the sale of dogs in pet stores. She said Langley is currently considering legislation and Toronto will be looking at this issue in  early 2011.
But McCann insists banning pet stores from selling dogs won't stop puppy mills from operating. Instead, he suggests provinces need to enact legislation that would regulate breeding operations. He added only Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec currently have legislation to regulate breeding. Bryson said the BC SPCA also wants legislation to regulate breeding operations, but until that happens this is an important first step towards the long-term goal of eliminating puppy mills. Currently, she said, pet stores have a "lack of transparency."  She noted one of the largest retailers of dogs in the Lower Mainland gets their puppies from a broker that sources puppies from "puppy mills and other unmonitored breeding facilities." "We haven't yet undertaken a review of the legislation that regulates dog breeding operations in other provinces, but, now that this piece is starting to fall into place, we plan to do so. My colleagues and I see the ban on the sale of dogs in retail outlets as just one piece of the puzzle which must be completed in order to ensure the eradication of puppy mills," said Bryson. Personally, I agree with Bryson and applaud Richmond's decision to stop the sale of dogs in pet stores.It is a good first step but so much more needs to be done, preferably with the province showing leadership to ensure dog breeding is properly regulated.