Animal Overpopulation

by Christie Lagally

I was reading over the agenda, report and minutes from the March 2, 2010 City of Richmond General Purposes Committee (GPC) meeting on the proposal to ban the sale of dog from Richmond storefronts.  This issue has been overdue for discussion, since abandoned and surrendered dogs have been a major issue in Richmond for a very long time.  These dogs often come from pet stores, but also come from pet dealers, otherwise known as ‘puppy mills’, selling directly to the public.

Some interesting ideas were tossed around by the Richmond City Council and since dogs and cats are abandoned and abused every day in Richmond, we urgently need to address this issue.

Some solutions considered by council included:  the development and enforcement of regulations for dog breeders; a resolution to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) seeking provincial standards for dog breeding; and amending Richmond’s bylaw so that the keeping of puppies is included in the three dog per household limit.  These three ideas have merit in that they address the issue of impromptu ‘puppy mill’ style breeding operations in the home of individual residents.  This is definitely needed, and I encourage city council to move forward with these ideas.  But the issue of animal overpopulation, surrender and abandonment in Richmond will not be solved until we, as a community, recognize the magnitude and the severity of animal overpopulation in Richmond, shut down the puppy and kitten mill operations, and ensure that all our pets are spayed and neutered.
The Human Society of the US has the best statistics in North America on the number of animals that are bred and sold in each year that end up being euthanized in shelters because there are simply too many of them.  Approximately 7 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters each year in North America.  Of those, about half (3.5 million animals) are immediately euthanized due to the fact that there aren’t enough homes for them all.  According the HSUS, 25% of those dogs in shelters are purebred, but in Richmond over 57% of dogs in the Richmond Animal Shelter are purebred dogs.   So although I think that dog breeding should be regulated to prevent ‘puppy mill’ style breeding facilities, with 7 million dogs and cats entering shelters every year, should we really be selling animals at all?
In fact, we have plenty of animals in shelters, rescue group foster homes, and breed-specific rescue groups to supply Richmond residents for a decade or more.  According the GPC meeting minutes, local pet stores sell more than 200 puppies annually and pet dealers sell even more.  However, with just one search on Petfinder.com (a database of animals for adoption by local rescue groups), I found that there are currently 798 dogs for adoption in Richmond and the surrounding area!  Of those 798 dogs, 53 are puppies.  I don’t think we need more dogs or cats being bred and sold in Richmond when we have such a huge number that are already homeless and so many end up at the Richmond Animal Shelter.
The costs of pet abandonment and surrender are felt by Richmond’s residents everyday when we pay our taxes to deal with this disturbing and ever-expanding issue of overpopulation.  Please contact City Council and encourage them to proceed to legislation to restrict animal sales in Richmond.   Well over 798 dogs will thank you.
Note: If you have never used Petfinder.com, it’s a wonderful resource for someone looking for a new pet.  You can enter your city or postal code and find all the dogs, cats, birds and rabbits for adoption in your area.  You can even search for a new pet by age, gender, size, and breed.  In addition, Petfinder.com is a wonderful resource for individuals who want to learn more about getting a dog or cat for the first time.  Check it out!

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