I recently wrote an article on the animal overpopulation issues in Richmond and the logic of selling animals at all. See that post.
I’d like to respond to the perplexing letter from Susan Dankert of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Canada (PIJAC). The title of her letter was “Banning animal sales won’t help depopulate shelters.”
When I read this letter, I was confused if PIJAC was actually responding to my column on the issue of animal overpopulation in Richmond. Then I realized the purpose of this letter was not to clear up mis-conception about pet stores or deny there is an over population problem in Richmond, but to reassure the public that they don’t need to be concerned about these issues because PIJAC is going to conference on it on October. It seems this letter was meant to make the public think there isn’t a problem with animal welfare and homelessness in Richmond because PIJAC has it under control. I assure you, this is not the case. All you have to do is visit the Richmond Animal Shelter (currently housing over 100 animals), the Richmond RAPS Cat Sanctuary (currently housing 900 homeless cats) and the BC SPCA (currently caring for over25 animals in Richmond alone) to see that animal overpopulation is not going to be solved by denying the problem.
I appreciate that PIJAC provided statistics in their letter including the point that “49 per cent of cats and 32 per cent of dogs in Canada were acquired from outside the industry”. That means that 51% of cats and 68% of dogs are coming from the pet industry! This isn’t a surprise to rescue workers in Richmond. At our last City Council meeting on this matter I presented council with a stack of receipts from local pet stores that were handed over when those customers surrendered their pets to the Richmond Animal Shelter. So it’s really no surprise that our overpopulation and abandonment issues are partially fed by animals sold through the pet industry.
Ms. Dankert states in her letter there is an “assumption that if stores are prohibited from selling puppies and kittens, customers will automatically go to the shelter and adopt one of their animals, most of which are adults.”
Actually, that was not the assumption at all or the stated purpose of asking council to consider the ban on the sale of animals. The point of the ban was to stop the impulse purchase of animals that keep quickly ending up surrendered at the Richmond Animal Shelter, being locked up as ‘garage dogs’ or abandoned to the streets of Richmond. A ban on the sale of animals in pet stores is simply meant to stop demand for puppy-mill style breeding and to prevent the impulse purchase of animals in a city that already has too many homeless pets.
Finally, I appreciate that PIJAC would like to find mutual solutions to the horrific conditions in puppy mills and overpopulation caused by animal sales and I hope they do so – soon! However, I’d like to respond to Ms. Dankart statement that “if the animal services in Richmond really want to make a difference they should look into attending this summit and put their energy into helping find those solutions.”
I looked into aforementioned Summit on Urban Animal Strategies being to be held at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in October. Unfortunately, representatives of the RAPS and BC SPCA are not allowed to attend the event because, according to summit website, participation in the summit is by invitation only, and attendees are invited by the event’s selection committee. Perhaps PIJAC would like to give us a report on the conference when they return? In the meantime, RAPS and the BCSPCA and many other rescue groups in our area will have to continue advocating to stop the sale of animals in pet stores and educating the public that puppy-mills are simply unacceptable, because, yes, Richmond animal services really do want to make a difference and they can’t wait any longer.
If you are aware of puppy-mill style breeding in a home or farm or an animal in poor or inhumane conditions, please call the BC SPCA at 604-879-7343 or the Richmond Animal Protection Society at 604-275-2036.