Helping Burnaby, BC end puppy, kitten and rabbit sales

Kathy Powelson and local volunteers in Burnaby, BC are working to show the Burnaby City Council why and how they should ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in their city.  This is a brief interview with Kathy on the efforts currently underway.

Q:  I understand that you are going to ask Burnaby City Council to ban the sale of animals from pet stores. Why are you requesting this ban?

A:  We believe that this is an important step in eliminating mills.  Our request focuses on puppies, kittens and bunnies.  When we first got together as a coalition, we had a lot of discussion of what animals should be included in the ban. We met with Small Animal Rescue Society of BC, Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC and Reptile Rescue and after much discussion, everyone agreed to start with puppies, kittens and bunnies.

We have such large feral and free roaming cat and rabbit populations in BC, it does not make sense to only have a ban on puppies.  As we have noticed in Richmond, one of the consequences has been in huge influx in the number of kittens that are being sold in the Richmond stores since the puppy ban.
We chose to focus on Burnaby because Pet Habitat, which is located in Metrotown Mall probably has the largest number of cats and dogs for sale, and the number of puppies that are brought in have significantly increased since the Richmond ban.

Q:  Has the city council been interested in addressing animal welfare issues in the past?

A: We have been pestering Burnaby council for almost two years now and we finally received a letter in April stating that “any restrictions regarding the sale of animals in pet stores would be contained within the Animal Control Bylaw.  License Office staff and BCSPCA are currently undertaking a review of this by law and once this process and been complete, any proposed amendment will be forwarded to Council for its consideration”

After receiving this letter I met with Bylaw staff and they recommended that I speak before council as they will be taking direction from council.  So it does seem about confusing who is taking the initiative, but at least they are finally receptive.

I present on July 16 and have received a ton of support from Helen Savkovic who, along with you and others, were involved in the precedent setting Richmond ban.

Q:  What action to you hope the council will take upon your request?   
A:  We hope the council passes a bylaw that bans the sale of puppies, kittens and pet stores.

Q:  Do other people or organizations support this ban?
A: Yes, we are working with a coalition of animal welfare and rescue groups.  BC Chihuahua Rescue, HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society, Petnerships, Semiamhoo Animal League and Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.  We have also consulted with the Burnaby SPCA, BC Small Animal Rescue, Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC and Reptile Rescue

Q:  How would such a ban take effect in Burnaby? Do they currently restrict the sale of any other types of animals?

A:  Currently, there is nothing in the animal control bylaws that even address the sale of animals, in any regard, so I was surprised when I received the letter that stated that that is where it would be addressed.  So essentially, as I understand things, the animal control bylaw would have to add a specific section that addresses this issue and that bans the sale of puppies, kittens and bunnies in pet stores.

Q:  Do know if Burnaby residents support such as ban?

A:  Most definitely, we have received overwhelming support from not only Burnaby residents, but the people all over.  We had a booth at the Pet Expo on March and we had people coming down specifically to sign a petition to ban the sale of these animals in pet stores.  Currently, we have a poll on CTV’s social trending site and 95% of the respondents do not want these animals sold in pet stores.  This is a great example about how important education is, once people know the issues associated with this practice, they do not support it.  It’s really that simple.

Q:  Can you tell us briefly about Paws for Hope Animal Foundation?
A:  We are a provincial animal welfare organization whose mission is to advance animal welfare through education and awareness, community programming and support and rescue and rehabilitation.  In addition to our Pets are Not Products Campaign we have Roxy’s Fund, which supports homeless, street involved and low income pet guardians and our Guardian Angel Fund, which supports volunteer run rescue organizations with emergency funding to cover vet expenses.

Q:  How can be people get involved with your Foundation or help support the ban you are requesting?

A: People can volunteer and / or donate to help us build upon the work that we are doing.  They can support the Pets Are not Products Campaign by spreading the word about the reality of the cute puppy, kitten and bunny in the pet store.  They can write Mayor Corrigan and request they implement a ban (  They can get added to our email list to keep update on what we are doing and the various supports we may need (email me at

People can find out more about us at  We also have a specific campaign website,

Once we are successful in Burnaby, we are moving to Surrey!


6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Thanks Christie! I will let you know how tomorrow goes. Fingers and paws crossed

  2. 2

    paw said,

    thank you soooo much Kathy – i wish common sense was common : )

  3. 3

    chonodan said,

    I’m confused why you aren’t attacking the mills. Putting people out of a job, people who genuinely care for the animals that they are taking care of at the store seems a cruel and ultimately ineffective way of solving the puppy mill issue. Especially a store that has a rather strict no-mills policy in regards to any animal they import.

    I visited this store a few weeks ago to see if any of the rumors I’d heard were true about Pet Habitat, and what I found was an environment where the employees truly care for their animals. I asked to see their “Olde Bulldog”, and the gentleman that showed her was truly fawning over her. You can’t fake that kind of emotion. The bulldog also returned the affection equally, which showed me that their animals are happy.

    • 4

      christielagally said,

      Thank you for your comment. I have replied to it personally in this post:

      I appreciate everyone who reads this blog, and I’m truly grateful when I get thoughtful comments. Just last week, I received this comment (below), and I wanted to respond because the person made an effort to find out what was going on with pet stores, and check it out for him or herself.

      “Why aren’t you attacking mills” is a good question, and I’m glad you commented. I’m also glad you took the time to see what the pet store was like in Burnaby.

      The reason that animal advocates ask cities to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores is because these pets stores are purchasing these animals from animal mills, like puppy mills. The store you visited, Pet Habitat, was featured in a CBC Documentary showing them to be a purchaser of dogs from puppy mills working with Hunte Corporation. See that documentary

      I encourage you to look into the Hunte Corporation and their record as a distributor of puppy milled dogs.

      However, I know that it can be confusing when you go to the pet store and they tell you that they do not buy from puppy mills (i.e. a strict no-mills policy) because it may seem like they are being honest. However, do your homework and look at what that undercover investigations revealed. Additionally, some people who work at pet stores genuinely do not know they are selling dogs from puppy mills, but they have also not taken the time find out. Those who do know they are buying dogs from Hunte or other puppy mills, have been recorded on camera denying it. For example, in Richmond, BC animal advocates had actual pedigree papers that could trace the dogs bought at a Richmond Pet Habitat store back to puppy mills in Missouri and Kansas and imported by the Hunte Corporation into Canada even through the store kept denying that they buy from puppy mills.

      The second reason that we ask cities to stop retail pet sales is because most of the puppy mills supplying dogs to Canada are not located in Canada, but in the US. Therefore the only way to stop the sale of puppy mill dogs is to stop it at the retail store. Additionally, while pet stores will tell you that stopping retail sales is ” “putting people out of a job”, all you have to do is note that many pet supply stores are very successful even through they do not sell animals. Pet stores in Burnaby can do the same, but are choosing not to do so.

      Finally, I also appreciate your comment about how much the staff at the Burnaby pet store “truly care for their animals”. It is possible that they do, indeed, care for the animals at that store, but are not considering the impact that their business has on all the other animals still locked away at the puppy mills. Many people believe that they love animals, and they truly do, but they don’t realize that by eating meat they are hurting that very animals they love … like dogs. See this link.

      Finally, you should do your research into Pet Habitat. According to their own website, “Pet Habitat” is only their “doing business as” or DBA name. Their corporate name is International Bio Research Ltd which alludes to an animal testing company that does product testing on animals confirmed to a lab. I can’t think of a more horrible life for animals.

      I urge you to do further research into Pet Habitat and ask even more questions. Then I urge you to check their answers and see which ones are true. I’m commend you for going to see if the “rumors I’d heard were true about Pet Habitat”. But not all your questions have been answered. Keep looking.

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