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 (email@example.com). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
Once we are successful in Burnaby, we are moving to Surrey!