Archive for October, 2010

Things are a changin’ … for animals in need

Things are changing for animals all over North America as more pet stores are converting to a more humane business model instead of selling animals.

Petland in Pittsburgh will no longer be selling puppies.  See their story below.

Petland to sell animals from shelters and …. Puppy Love

Furthermore, a city in Australia has strengthened its laws to prevent children from purchasing animals and to provide more power to RSPCA inspectors to shut down puppy mills.  See New Victorian….

Finally, in a rural part of California, the fight against puppy mills is starting with education.  See Puppy in pet store window may be from puppy-mill.

A special thank you to Lisa from Small Animal Rescue Society (SARS) for sending me some of these great articles.

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Response to “Pet-industry bulldog to fight puppy-mill ban”

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has made some strong statements about how badly they don’t want Richmond to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores.  Province columnist, Brian Lewis, gave PIJAC a chance to have their say in the column “Pet-industry bulldog to fight puppy-mill ban” (Oct. 19th, 2010).  Below is my response.

Dear Province Editor,

Thank you for the column “Pet-industry bulldog to fight puppy-mill ban” (Oct. 19th).  While I understand that businesses will be impacted by the change in the Richmond business bylaw preventing the sale of dogs in retail stores, PIJAC and the pet stores have had every opportunity to document the source of their dogs, and they never did so.  Yet two out of the three pet stores in Richmond, Pet Habitat and PJ Pet were investigated in a CBC Marketplace documentary called “How not to buy a puppy”.  That documentary tracked the supply of dogs, through the Hunte Corporation (a US puppy broker), back to breeding facilities that keep hundreds of breeding dogs in cages with little or no care.   The last pet store in Richmond, Pets Wonderland, told city council that they sourced their puppies from ‘family’ breeders in Richmond.  The store representative was quickly informed during that Oct. 4th Richmond committee meeting that, without a business license, their source of puppies was already in violation of Richmond’s bylaws.  (See council committee minutes for Oct. 4th)

But even for those pet stores in BC that may not be buying from US puppy brokers or from puppy-mills here in Canada, shutting down puppy-mills was not the only reason to stop retail dog sales.  Here in Richmond, 57% of the dogs that are surrendered or abandoned at the Richmond Animal Shelter are purebred dogs, while the US Humane Society cites the North American average of 25% for most municipal shelters.  Furthermore, a large portion of the dogs in Richmond’s shelter are surrendered along with their pet store receipts.  This is how we knew that so many dogs being purchased at local pet stores were ending up in our shelter.  Finally, in the process of investigating where PJ Pets and Pet Habitat was getting puppies sold in Richmond, members of the Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition were able to trace several pet store purchased dogs back to the breeder.  In all cases we found that the breeders had USDA inspection reports citing dogs in need of medical care, kept in wire cages outdoors and excessive build-up of feces in the living area.

While PIJAC and pet stores continue to say they don’t source from puppy-mills or back-yard breeders and claim to be the victims here, I urge people to think critically about their claims.  PIJAC has said they want the city and the province to license and regulate breeders, but since the Hunte Corporation sources nearly all its puppies from the States, regulation would be ineffective for those sources.  However, preventing the point-of-sale demand for these imported puppies is effective. And since the pet industry has failed to regulate their own activities in a humane and effective fashion, Richmond was forced to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores, rather than spend time and taxpayer money to continue to monitor pet store activities.

Respectfully,
Christie Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition

Dear Province Editor, 

Thank you for the column “Pet-industry bulldog to fight puppy-mill ban” (Oct. 19th).  While I understand that businesses will be impacted by the change in the Richmond business bylaw preventing the sale of dogs in retail stores, PIJAC and the pet stores have had every opportunity to document the source of their dogs, and they never did so.  Yet two out of the three pet stores in Richmond, Pet Habitat and PJ Pet were investigated in a CBC Marketplace documentary called “How not to buy a puppy”.  That documentary tracked the supply of dogs, through the Hunte Corporation (a US puppy broker), back to breeding facilities that keep hundreds of breeding dogs in cages with little or no care.   The last pet store in Richmond, Pets Wonderland, told city council that they sourced their puppies from ‘family’ breeders in Richmond.  The store representative was quickly informed during that Oct. 4th Richmond committee meeting that, without a business license, their source of puppies was already in violation of Richmond’s bylaws.  (See council committee minutes for Oct. 4th)

 

But even for those pet stores in BC that may not be buying from US puppy brokers or from puppy-mills here in Canada, shutting down puppy-mills was not the only reason to stop retail dog sales.  Here in Richmond, 57% of the dogs that are surrendered or abandoned at the Richmond Animal Shelter are purebred dogs, while the US Humane Society cites the North American average of 25% for most municipal shelters.  Furthermore, a large portion of the dogs in Richmond’s shelter are surrendered along with their pet store receipts.  This is how we knew that so many dogs being purchased at local pet stores were ending up in our shelter.  Finally, in the process of investigating where PJ Pets and Pet Habitat was getting puppies sold in Richmond, members of the Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition were able to trace several pet store purchased dogs back to the breeder.  In all cases we found that the breeders had USDA inspection reports citing dogs in need of medical care, kept in wire cages outdoors and excessive build-up of feces in the living area.  

While PIJAC and pet stores continue to say they don’t source from puppy-mills or back-yard breeders and claim to be the victims here, I urge people to think critically about their claims.  PIJAC has said they want the city and the province to license and regulate breeders, but since the Hunte Corporation sources nearly all it’s puppies from the States, regulation would be ineffective for those sources.  However, preventing the point-of-sale demand for these imported puppies is effective. And since the pet industry has failed to regulate their own activities in a humane and effective fashion, Richmond was forced to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores, rather than spend time and taxpayer money to continue to monitor pet store activities.

Respectfully,
Christie Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition
9431 Auburn Dr.
Richmond, BC V7A 4Y6
604-910-6508
christielagally.wordpress.com/

 

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Humane Society International urges councils to ban retail dog sales

In a powerful statement to the world, the Humane Society International is encouraging all cities to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores and praises Richmond, BC councillors for having the courage to make the first step towards a puppy-mill free world.

“We hope that councils across Canada will do likewise and ban the commercial sale of puppies through pet stores.”  ~ HSI

Furthermore, while Richmond Council has been criticized by some for their methods of banning instead of regulating the pet sale industry, the HSI has made it clear that banning was not only the ethical thing to do, it was the right way to stop puppy-mill sales.

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City or province? Whose job is it to protect our animals?

Tracey Garbutt Photo

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.

Dear Editor,

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.

Respectfully,
Christie Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition

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A big ‘Thank you’ to Richmond City Council

“Somewhere there must be justice; it can’t all be suffering.” ~ Nicole Joncas, “No country for Animals“, Global TV Canada

Last night, there was justice in Richmond BC.  During the Richmond City Council meeting, a delegation from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC) flew in to speak against the ban on the sale of dogs in pet stores.  Yet, despite their assurance that PIJAC, nor its member pet stores, do not source dogs from puppy-mills, Helen Savkovic of RAPS proved otherwise before council.

Upon review of files for dogs surrendered to the Richmond Animal Shelter whom were originally purchased in a Richmond pet store, Helen confirmed via documentation accompanying the pet store receipt that those dogs were purchased through the Hunte Corporation.  Because these particular dogs were either UKC or AKC registered, they could be tracked to the breeder in the U.S.  In one such case, a Miniature Schnauzer was tracked back to a breeder in Chelsea, OK who had USDA inspection reports documenting sick dogs who were not receiving veterinary care and dog cages with wire mesh flooring where canine legs could slip through and get caught.

In a second USDA inspection report for a breeder selling to Hunte and then to a Richmond, BC pet store, the breeder was cited for dog cages and concrete pens in poor repair, pens, cages and welping areas with feces build-up affecting at least 61 dogs, and unsanitary conditions and accumulation of feces affecting 44 dogs.

Whether PIJAC wishes to look at these issues or not, the pet stores receipts, the Hunte Corporation certificates indicating the breeders and the damning USDA inspection reports show that most dogs bought and sold at Richmond pet stores came from horrific breeding mills unfit for dogs or any animal.  Similarly, AWAC found a USDA report from Aug. 2008 citing the Hunte Corporation for transportation of puppies less than 56 days old (on their way to be sold) and a facility that housed dogs in cages of less than 3 feet sq.

Furthermore, during last night’s council meeting Kristin Bryson of the BC SPCA presented a US Office of the Inspector’s General (OIG) report which was obtained by the Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition (AWAC) via the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) showing that the USDA inspected breeders are in fact puppy-mills, and that the USDA has been woefully and dangerously inadequate in their, so-called, inspections of commercial dog breeders. The report indicates that USDA inspectors were not citing breeders for massive accumulation of feces and bug contaminated food for the dogs and other horrific conditions.  See that report here.

Another delegation at the Council meeting spoke in support of this ban saying that by allowing the sale of dogs in pet stores that end up at the Richmond Animal Shelter, the Richmond taxpayers were subsidizing one particular industry and that there were more than enough animals at the Richmond Animal Shelter for adoption.  The room was packed with supporters of the ban on the sale of dogs in pet stores.  Yet, PIJAC and pet stores representatives made no mention of the huge numbers of animals that have come from their pet stores and who have been surrendered to the Richmond Animal Shelter, BC SPCA and other rescues along with receipts from the pet stores.  It’s doesn’t appear PIJAC is interested in working together at all; during these council meetings, they simply ignored the dog surrendering problem.

So, thank you, Richmond City Council for standing up for what is ethical and honest and for making sure that, at least our city, says no to industrialized breeding and selling of dogs.

In the next few weeks, Richmond City Council needs to hear from you on this issue.  Please email them today at mayorandcouncillors@richmond.ca.

Special thanks to No Puppy-mills Canada and the Richmond Animal Protection Society for providing information on dog breeding records.

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See you Tuesday at the Richmond City Council meeting

Dear Animal Welfare Supporters,

If you haven’t already heard, the Richmond City Council has put forth an amendment to ban the sale of dogs in Richmond’s pet stores!  It was an emotional and productive committee meeting on Monday night when Councillors made the ethical choice to amend the business bylaw and stop the sale of dogs in retail outlets.  However, the work is not over. This Tuesday evening, we need your support at the full Richmond City Council meeting to ensure this proposed amendment becomes an actual amendment and we save so many dogs from puppy-mills and/or abandonment.

Please join us and attend this council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12th at 7:00 PM at Richmond City Hall.  If you already have an ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’  or ‘Puppy Mills Bite’ tags or any other items that show your support for the puppy sale ban, please wear it on Tuesday night.   We need to show council that we are with them on this ban and they have our support. See the agenda here. Note, it may not be posted quite yet.

I hope you can attend this meeting and help us usher in animal welfare history in the making.

Sincerely,

Christie Lagally

Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition (AWAC)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

P.S.  The Richmond city clerk has posted the minutes to the Oct. 4th meeting.  You can view them at here.  It’s a good read, and a narrative of our efforts.

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Richmond Councillors ban pet stores sales of dogs !!!

Yes, really! I can hardly believe it myself….

See:  http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101005/bc_puppy_ban_101004/20101005?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

We did it and you did it! Tonight, Richmond City Councillors unanimously voted to amend the business license bylaw to effectively ban the sale of dogs in Richmond pet stores! Tonight, we celebrate, because in the days and weeks ahead, a few less animals will suffer for pet stores’ profit!

There will be some additional work in the days ahead regarding implementation of the changed bylaw.  The amendment will require a 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading before council and some public consultation for implementation.

Thank you everyone for all your hard work!

Christie Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition

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