San Diego bans the retail sale of dogs and cats. What will Burnaby do?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASan Diego is touting itself as the pet friendliest in the America.  This week, city council banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail outlets, and animal advocates cheered.  See this coverage from the preliminary (and unanimous) vote by city council on July 9th.   Another excellent article on the ban comes from All Pet News.

Meanwhile, Burnaby in British Columbia, Canada is still mulling such a ban.  This editorial by the Burnaby Now staff, Ban on pet sales won’t solve mill problem, actually advocates for the ban to be put in place.  

Yet, their argument that such a ban would only send the industry underground has been rolled around many times, particularly in Richmond, where the “underground” pet industry was well underway long before a ban on the sale of dogs was put in place.  But, ironically, my closer look in 2010 into this “underground” industry led me right back to the pet stores.  Here was my letter to council reporting on this “underground” industry.

Nov. 8, 2010

Dear Honorable Councillors and Mayor Brodie:
I am grateful that you have taken such humane and responsible steps to improve the lives of our animals in our city.
In the past year and especially the past month, we have heard many arguments against banning the sale of dogs in pet stores. While we are all aware that banning the sale of dogs in pet stores will not totally solve the puppy mill problem in Canada, it will help to alleviate the issue of homeless animals here in Richmond, BC. Nevertheless, I would like to address two recurring issues regarding this ban.
The first issue tabled several times is the suggestion that this ban is unfair because it does not influence the online sale of dogs, specifically on the Kijiji website, which allows dog sales. While there are hundreds of people selling dogs in British Columbia on Kijiji, a search limited to Richmond revealed just six  advertisements. Four of the Kijiji ads were for dogs at the Pets Wonderland [retail] store and one was for a dog purchased at Pet Habitat in Richmond Centre that someone was trying to sell off. The last ad was for a single puppy being re-homed. It doesn’t appear that Richmond puppy mills are using Kijiji to advertise their dogs. However, pet stores are.
Second, there has been the outstanding question, both in Council’s discussions as well as in the media, that banning or regulating the sale of dogs in pet stores should not be dealt with on the municipal level, and that regulation should come from the Province. I would argue that this issue was, in fact, appropriate to be dealt with at the municipal level because it is the responsibility of the city to allocate money for our local animal shelter and to regulate pet stores via the business licensing bylaws.

In the future, I am hopeful that the Province of British Columbia will take action to regulate the breeding and sale of all animals, but currently the municipal government has the power to improve the state of animal welfare in Richmond through modification of business practices.
Furthermore, the Humane Society International has formally recommended that city councils take this same bold step at the local level. Your actions here today are a perfect example of the adage, “Think globally, act  locally”, and I thank you for that.
Your careful and thoughtful administration of this proposal and amendment to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores has resonated around the world. Thank you again.
With my respect,

Christie D. Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition (AWAC)

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