The debate over banning pet sales in Burnaby is heating up, along with concerns animal activists have about our two local pet shops that still sell puppies and kittens. While their hearts are in the right place, a ban on sales will not solve the problem of puppy and kitty mills, where breeders keep cats and dogs in deplorable conditions, emphasizing profit over the animals' welfare. Like any call for prohibition, a ban usually drives the problem underground, OUR Burnaby making it more difficult to regulate, while backyard breeders and mills simply move to the black market or sell animals through online forums like Craigslist. However, this is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution, and city hall staffers and councillors would be remiss to write off a proposed ban on pet sales simply because it is not a magic bullet that will stop the mill problem.
There is no simple solution, but a pet sales ban is a good place to start, simply because of the overwhelming number of homeless animals rescue groups are desperately trying to place.
When you buy a pet, you are buying a living creature. It is not a toy, and as cute as that puppy in the window is, it should not be bought on impulse while shopping at the mall.
We at the Burnaby NOW are tired, frankly, of writing about pet turtles, with illnesses and rotting shells, dumped in local lakes, or gerbils and hamsters left outdoors in cages, nearly drowning in the rain, or tame abandoned pet rabbits being mauled by dogs in a local park.
We would be happy to see a moratorium on pet sales until all the homeless animals are properly cared for and our collective society can demonstrate the responsibility that pet ownership entails. Until that happens, consider adopting instead of buying. There are more than enough animals that need forever homes.