Burnaby's pet sales discussion still a few weeks away

Now that the dust is settling after Burnaby council strengthened its breed-specific legislation, animal advocates want to know why the next part of the animal control bylaw wasn’t on the agenda this week.

As the Burnaby NOW previously reported, the city’s clerks department said the second part of the animal control bylaw, concerning pet sales in the city, was going to appear on the Oct. 7 council agenda.

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However, the second part might not appear on the Monday night agenda until Oct. 21, according to Sid Cleave, assistant deputy city clerk – and that’s tentative.

“Given how they dealt with the (breed-specific legislation) and pit bull issue, I’m not optimistic at all that the report is going to provide some quality and accurate data,” Kathy Powelson, executive director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, told the NOW in a phone interview. “We really have no faith in the process. This decision that they came to with breed-specific legislation is, for lack of a better word, absolutely mind-blowing.”

Powelson, who is also a Burnaby resident, said she did not expect the animal control bylaw to get split up and was hoping the pet sales issue in Burnaby would get addressed earlier.

“Going back to the pet sales issue, council is very business-oriented, and we already knew we had a battle ahead of us,” she said. “The fact that we’re asking them to implement a bylaw that will affect two businesses in the city – we knew it would be hard for them to swallow.”

Powelson noted that it’s a hard decision to ban the sales of kittens, puppies and rabbits in the city and it should take time – but the time should be spent researching and reviewing data correctly.

“I know that there’s a ton of people writing to the city around this issue,” she added. “And the fact that they did say it was going to be on the Monday (Oct. 7) meeting and then it doesn’t show up on the agenda – there’s no communication as to why, and I find that so disrespectful.”

Powelson said she believes that council did not expect the backlash it received after its decision to keep pit bulls muzzled, which could be why council has not kept to the original timeline given to the NOW.

“Part of the struggle is, do we even bother?” she asked. “I’m not optimistic. It’s incredibly disappointing, and we all feel really demoralized based on the experience, based on how they treated people.”

No matter the outcome, Powelson says the animal advocates she represents will continue to fight for animal rights.

“It’s really, really frustrating,” she noted. “All I have to say to them is we’re not going away. This is not the end of it. We initially had all wanted to work with council, but the way that we’ve been treated, it’s been so demoralizing.”

When the second part of the animal control bylaw does come forward to council, it’s expected to take the same format as the first part of the report.

The report will come forward, council will table it and the public will be given two weeks to send in comments for consideration and sign up to present delegations on the issue before a decision is made.

Paws for Hope is part of a coalition of other animal welfare associations, including HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association, B.C. Chihuahua Rescue, Small Animal Rescue and Semiahmoo Animal League.

For more information about Paws for Hope, visit pawsforhope.org.

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