While the debate on banning pet sales in Burnaby heats up, animal activists are taking aim at Pet Habitat, a Metrotown pet shop that sells puppies and kittens.
Kat Chapman, a Burnaby mom and animal lover, has started a closed Facebook group calling for Pet Habitat to stop selling animals, and so far more than 350 people have joined.
"They are supporting puppy mills, they are selling sick animals (that) are living in cramped quarters," Chapman said. Another group member, Steven Padley, has started a petition proposing Pet Habitat stop selling pets, and more than 700 people have signed so far.
There are only two stores in Burnaby that sell puppies and kittens: Pet Habitat at Metrotown and King Ed Pet Centre. Both store owners have told the NOW they do not sell animals from mills, which are usually defined as breeding facilities that put profits above animal welfare.
Pet Habitat owner Tom Peters said he thinks Chapman's campaign stems from her experience as a disgruntled customer. Peters also said a veterinarian visits the store every two weeks, and staff regularly clean up after the animals.
Peters attributed the number of people supporting the campaign as an accumulation of media affecting people's decisionmaking processes.
"Everybody wants the best thing for the animals, that's the number 1 thing. People want to show their support. As long as they know what the real things are, that's great. (But) one person does something wrong, and they are representative of the entire industry," he said.
Animal advocates have also been pushing the City of Burnaby to adopt a ban on the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits. In a previous interview with the NOW, Peters reiterated that he does not get his kittens from mills; they come from a town in northern Quebec that has an inadequate shelter system. The puppies come from Hunte Corp., a U.S. wholesaler that buys from various breeders.
"We are not getting from puppy mills," Peters said, adding that Pet Habitat does its own research to make sure they only buy Hunte puppies from breeders that don't have any problems.
"We do Internet research to see if there's anything bad about them," he said. "We have our own blacklist of breeders."
Peters also said he's approached animal rescue groups about selling rescued kittens in his shop but that they don't want to work with him because he sells puppies.
"Just because someone is a commercial breeder does not make them a puppy
mill," he added. "If it's a puppy mill, deal with the puppy mill. Don't deal with the venue where it's, being sold the venue is not the issue."
Chapman has also been taking photos of animals at Pet Habitat and forwarded them to the SPCA, which responded by investigating recently.
B.C. SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty said they can't comment on what they found because the investigation is ongoing. "What I can say is an (animal care) order was issued and has been complied with, and there has been a veterinarian involved in the file," Moriarty said. Chapman also says there's a peaceful protest against Pet Habitat in the works, but there's no date set yet, and she plans to connect with local MP Peter Julian to get help with her campaign.
"We're all animal activists," she said. "We don't go away, we work until things are finished," she said. "Little puppies need to be out, running around and cuddled, not living in a tank."
There's an open Facebook page dedicated to the issue at http://on.fb. me/15CpnJk.
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