How much is that doggy in the window?

Dog lover wants city to ban pet store animal sales

Pets should be picked from shelters and rescue societies, not bought from stores, according to Kathy Powelson, a Burnaby resident and executive director of the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation.

Powelson wants Burnaby's mayor and council to follow the example of Richmond and Toronto in legislating pet store animal sales bans.

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"Toronto just banned the sale of kittens and puppies, which is better than Richmond, because Richmond was only puppies," she said in a phone interview last week.

She has sent three emails to Mayor Derek Corrigan on the subject during the past year, she said, but has thus far not received any response.

"I would like to see a ban on all animals," Powelson said, adding there are more than 65 community-based rescue societies in B.C., which focus on specific species and breeds of animals in their efforts.

Burnaby has a B.C. SPCA shelter, as well as the Small Animal Rescue Society.

And many networks focus on a specific type of pure bred, such as the French Bulldog Rescue Network, which is based in the United States.

"If there's not one located specifically in B.C., there's someone in B.C. who represents the network," Powelson said.

Animals sold through pet stores are usually obtained from dubious sources, she added.

"No reputable breeder will sell their animals to a pet store, and so you are getting animals that are coming from puppy mills, and if they're not coming from puppy mills they're coming from what we call backyard breeders," Powelson explained.

She pointed to the case of 527 dogs seized from a puppy mill in Western Quebec last week.

Dogs from puppy mills often have respiratory, joint and eye problems, Powelson said.

"And once they're too old to breed, they're killed," she added.

Backyard breeders breed smaller batches of puppies, but not to the standards of reputable breeders, according to Powelson.

"So you're not guaranteed what the health of your animal is going to be," she pointed out.

She has emailed other municipalities in the region as well as Burnaby, but only heard from Coquitlam, she said.

Coquitlam councillor Mae Reid asked her for more information, but the council has not moved forward on the issue as of yet, Powelson said.

The B.C. SPCA's manager of community relations, Lorie Chortyk, said the

organization would support Burnaby taking steps to introduce such a ban.

"That's certainly something we're in favour of," Chortyk said, adding the SPCA was involved in petitioning Richmond to bring in its ban.

"People don't really know what they're getting," she said of pet store animals, adding that puppy mills are a particular problem.

"Those animals are bred in just horrific conditions," Chortyk said. "They're kept in tiny cages, they're kept in feces and urine, and they're just bred continuously, because the focus in not on the welfare of those animals. It's about churning out as many puppies as you can for maxi-mum profit."

While a ban on pet store animal sales would not stop sales through classified ads and online sites such as CraigsList, she said, it would hopefully get people to think about why it is a bad idea to buy animals from such sources.

Burnaby's mayor was unsure if city staff was looking at a pet sales ban right now, as the city's planning department has been focused on the many development projects going through, he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

"I don't know if that's in our workload or not, to review that issue," he said, adding the planning department currently has a long list of projects it's working on.

"I'm not making any promises to anybody that we can have a major bylaw review on issues like that until we get some of the work out of the way that's on our plate right now," Corrigan said.

However, he mentioned that Richmond has had some strong leadership on the issue, and he would speak with Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie about it.

"I wouldn't mind seeing what Richmond's done and what drew them to impose a new bylaw," he said.

Companies with Burnaby pet stores that sell animals, such as Pet Habitat and King Ed Pet Centre, did not respond to requests for an interview.

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