[UPDATE] Burnaby staffers say puppies and kittens still OK to peddle

Local animal activist group disheartened by new city report on the animal control bylaw

Coming on the heels of the breed-specific legislation decision, Burnaby city staffers are once again recommending amendments to the animal control bylaw that work against what activists want.

More than a year ago, Kathy Powelson, executive director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, appeared before council and asked the city to ban the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits. A report from city staff, presented to council this week, instead recommends continuing with the sale of puppies and kittens, requiring the spay and neutering of rabbits, and banning the sale of turtles.

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Council tabled the report at its Oct. 21 meeting to allow the public to comment on it over the next two weeks. It will make its decision about the staff recommendations after the two-week period.

Mayor and councillors at Monday night’s meeting were either ready to pass the recommendations that night or wanted the report to better address animal welfare.

Both Coun. Pietro Calendino and Coun. Sav Dhaliwal suggested that stores should also spay and neuter kittens for sale to address the stray cat population problem.

Coun. Dan Johnston said he wants the public to come out in the next two weeks to have their voices heard. Mayor Derek Corrigan agreed and also asked any delegations that do come forward to address, with evidence, if pet impulse buying in Burnaby is a problem connected to the animals being dumped in the city streets.

“Animals for sale in pet stores make up a small percentage of animals available for purchase,” Denise Jorgensen, director of finance, states in her report. “The Burnaby store held 30 dogs and 20 cats for sale at the time of a recent staff visit.”

As the Burnaby NOW  previously reported, turtles being dumped in city parks and taking over the native turtle territory is the reason why the city is recommending that turtle sales be prohibited.

Jorgensen also states in almost half of the instances where a complaint was lodged against a pet store, it was determined to be without merit. In the last five years, there were five complaints that resulted in an order being issued to a local pet store. The B.C. SPCA reported that in every instance, the business cooperated and complied.

The city also reviewed what five neighbouring cities do and found that only Richmond has banned the sale of puppies, but it has not banned the sale of kittens. Jorgensen said the common practice was implementing regulations that protect the animals for sale.

However, Powelson said the whole report is disappointing.

Powelson said the report does not address any of the animal welfare issues she brought forward in her delegation, regarding the puppy and kitten mill problem.

“Sterilizing rabbits does nothing to address the abandonment issue, which is the issue that I brought up,” she added. “One of the things that I talked about was the issue of rabbits dumped in our parks, but we don’t see them because they’re eaten by the coyotes or eagles.”

Powelson called the report disgraceful and said she doesn’t know if she’ll be out to speak against it because she’s lost faith in the process after the city’s handling of breed-specific legislation last month.

“I don’t feel that it’s a good use of our time, our supporters’ time, to go before council and present,” she said.

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