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.
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition