Last week, the Richmond News took a bold position with the editorial “City takes a bit out of suffering” and their view seems to be the prevailing one in Richmond. However, the Richmond Review editor was unsure as to where his paper stood and posed the issue (and the often-cried protest of the pet industry), of animal welfare being a provincial issue.
Here is my response to that editorial, and hopefully this clears up a few incorrect facts.
I am grateful for your editorial (Animal Welfare a provincial issue). Your position on whether the issue of banning vs. regulating animal sales by the city, is a valid concern, but it appears to be based on several pieces of wrong information.
First, you state that the ban “won’t do anything to improve animal welfare in Richmond” and “purchases that end badly for the pet—represents a tiny fraction of puppies being raised in the city”. This is incorrect. In fact, based on the number of dogs surrendered and abandoned at the Richmond animal shelter, 57% are purebred dogs and roughly 1/2 of those came into the Richmond Animal Shelter with either admission by the owner that the dog was purchased at the Richmond pet store or an actual receipt from the pet store. This ‘tiny fraction’ you mention, represents around 90-100 dogs per year in Richmond. So, actually, stopping the sale of animals in pet stores will make a difference, at least in the number of animals who end up at the Richmond Animal Shelter and the suffering they endure beforehand.
Second, you state that “this shouldn’t be city business. The provincial government level—and the B.C. SPCA, which handles animal welfare issues for the province—is where these issues should be dealt with.” Actually, this issue is very much ‘city business’ because it is the city that doles out the money to pay for our animal shelter to be filled with dogs from pet stores, and it’s the city that controls and regulates the pet stores via the Business licensing bylaws. In fact, this is very much in the jurisdiction of the city, and since the pet stores continue to deny that they are purchasing from puppy mills, despite all evidence to the contrary by both CBC Marketplace and the BC SPCA, the city did what they could to regulate the pet stores and protect it’s animal shelter from abuse by industry animal dumping — a shelter that is not run by the SPCA, but by RAPS. And even for those cities that have shelters operated by the SPCA, it was the BC SPCA that recommended that Richmond ban the sale of dogs by amending Richmond’s business licensing bylaw.
Furthermore, despite the fact that it seems to be the popular statement in the last week to say “it’s the Province’s job to regulate dog breeding and sales”, I have yet to see even one response from the Province or any indication they are going to do anything about this issue. And why would they? It’s the city governments that suffer the costs and see the cruelty involved when animals are sold in their cities, and the Province can’t regulate what dogs breeders are doing in the States. So unless the Province is prepared to amend the business licensing bylaws for all BC municipalities to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores — which I certainly hope they do — , the City Council was right to spend their time on this difficult and heartbreaking issue.
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition