Just like in Richmond, Austin, Texas, recently banned the sale of dogs in pet stores. But it didn’t stop at just dogs. Austin city councillors implemented a new law to ban the sale of cats, too, and to require private breeders to spay or neuter their animals before sale.
The councillors had a goal in mind: to reduce the euthanasia rate of animals in its local shelter and run the facility as no-kill.
It’s working. According to the Austin Public Information Office, its animal shelter had a live outcome rate of 75 per cent prior to the implementation of the new law. One month later and after the closing of a large pet store, the live outcome rate at the city shelter soared to 88 per cent. That’s a huge impact for one bylaw to make, and the live outcome rate includes all animals in the shelter – not just dogs and cats.
On April 30, Richmond’s bylaw banning dog sales in pet stores comes into effect.
While the Richmond Animal Protection Society already runs our local shelter as no-kill, the pressure to stop retail puppy sales was also spurred by the large number of surrendered pet store dogs.
Reptile at the Richmond Reptile, Education & Adoption Society
The problem is Richmond’s ban only applies to the sale of bunnies and dogs. Kittens and cats, the most abundant pet for adoption in Richmond, will still be sold in pet stores. (See cats for adoption here in Richmond here.)
Furthermore, rescue groups such as Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary and Richmond Reptile Education and Adoption Society are taking in record numbers of birds and reptiles – most of which were originally bought at pet stores.
Why are sales of kittens, birds and reptiles any different than dogs and bunnies? Fundamentally, the same problems of impulse pet buying and animal abandonment or surrender exists.
Macaw at Greyhaven's Sanctuary
Because RAPS takes in nearly every homeless cat and provides a cat sanctuary (on No. 6 Road) for unadoptable cats, while Greyhaven and Richmond Reptile care for every bird and reptile in their care, the political pressure to stop the sale of these animals isn’t heard as loudly.
But it should be. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the figurative ‘rally’ for birds, reptiles and cats in Richmond.
Next week my husband, two dogs and cat will be packing up and resettling in Seattle. Sadly, I will have to say goodbye to writing my Richmond News pet column.
In the meantime, I want to say how proud I am that Richmond residents have made this city the most humane city in Canada.
Toby and Duchess ready to head south to Seattle
Your efforts to ban the retail sale of dogs and bunnies, require cage-free eggs in city facilities and support a no-kill city animal shelter are what makes Richmond a true gem of a place to live for animal lovers.
And until birds, reptiles and cats have the same protection from our bylaws as dogs and bunnies, please support and advocate for those groups dearest to my heart – RAPS, Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary and the Richmond Reptile Rescue and Adoption Society. Like many other wonderful rescue groups in B.C., they are the ones fighting on the front lines against animal homelessness, neglect, abuse and indiscriminate sales in Richmond.
Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist and founder of the Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition. She will continue to write her blog (christielagally.wordpress.com) from her new home in Seattle.
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