Posts tagged animal control bylaws

It finally happend in LA: Dog, cat and rabbit sales banned at pet stores

Great! Fantastic! That’s amazing! Imagine all the animals saved! Those were the responses I’ve heard as I spread the word that LA  banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail outlets today (ref: Los Angeles Times).

And, naturally, I agree.

You don’t have to wait for election day to make progress, and that’s what they did in LA.  Now, only animals for adoption can be provided through retail outlets.  This is a move to start solving the pet homelessness problem at the source!

Overflow of kittens at a Pacific NW shelterLA is a huge market for pets stores who frequently sell dogs that are trending as popular, such as Chihuahuas after the release of Legally Blonde.   There are so many animals homeless in LA that rescue groups all over the country actually export dogs out of LA to find them homes elsewhere.

And the relief that shelter workers will get is just one more reason that banning the retail sale of animals is so important.  Imagine each day you are faced with hundreds and even thousands of homeless animals, many who will be euthanized. This is a quote from one LA newspaper article earlier this month:

“In the 2011-12 fiscal year, city animal shelters took in more than 57,000 animals — 35,405 dogs and 21,883 cats — and euthanized 25 percent of the dogs and 57 percent of cats.” — ref: Daily News LA

Congratulations to Councilman Paul Koretz, Los Angeles Department of Animal Services and all the animal advocates and organizations who pressed for this ban.


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Richmond News letter: City, tighten leash on bylaws

An excellent letter to the editor on the current state of government policy on animal issues in Richmond, BC.

Richmond News January 26, 2011

The Editor,

Re: “Animal shelter faces anxious days ahead,” News, Jan. 21:

Alan Campbell’s latest article about the City of Richmond giving RAPS the run-around on its contract renewal is yet more evidence of the problem that has existed in Richmond for the past 15 years.

The bylaws department in this city is in need of a massive overhaul.

It can be seen in the petition to B.C. Supreme Court Mr. Ryan Lake recently announced in the News (Jan. 5, Letters, “Maybe you can fight city hall”) and his frequent observations of bylaw department inadequacies (Richmond News, July 31, 2009; Sept. 23, 2009; Oct. 23, 2009; March 12, 2010).

It can be seen in the minutes of the most recent city council meeting (Jan. 10), in which my wife and others were berated by council for suggesting that the current breed-specific bylaws were dysfunctional.

Finally, it can be seen in the fact that twice in the past two days, my wife and I were approached by growling, snarling, off-leash dogs in the City of Richmond.

My inspection of the animal control bylaw reveals that in both if these instances, there were no fewer than three sections of the bylaw violated simultaneously, which should have resulted in the dogs being impounded at the owners’ expense.

Where is the bylaw enforcement in this city?

Why does it work so poorly?

Until these questions are addressed, no progress on the problems I mentioned can be made.

The city should take as its incentive the realization that if everyone who had ever been traumatized by an aggressive dog in Richmond got together, the resulting class action could be very hard to ignore.

Eric Lagally


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City or province? Whose job is it to protect our animals?

Tracey Garbutt Photo

Last week, the Richmond News took a bold position with the editorial “City takes a bit out of suffering” and their view seems to be the prevailing one in Richmond.   However, the Richmond Review editor was unsure as to where his paper stood and posed the issue (and the often-cried protest of the pet industry), of  animal welfare being a provincial issue.

Here is my response to that editorial, and hopefully this clears up a few incorrect facts.

Dear Editor,

I am grateful for your editorial (Animal Welfare a provincial issue).  Your position on whether the issue of banning vs. regulating animal sales by the city, is a valid concern, but it appears to be based on several pieces of wrong information.

First, you state that the ban “won’t do anything to improve animal welfare in Richmond” and “purchases that end badly for the pet—represents a tiny fraction of puppies being raised in the city”.  This is incorrect.  In fact, based on the number of dogs surrendered and abandoned at the Richmond animal shelter, 57% are purebred dogs and roughly 1/2 of those came into the Richmond Animal Shelter with either admission by the owner that the dog was purchased at the Richmond pet store or an actual receipt from the pet store.  This ‘tiny fraction’ you mention, represents around 90-100 dogs per year in Richmond.  So, actually, stopping the sale of animals in pet stores will make a difference, at least in the number of animals who end up at the Richmond Animal Shelter and the suffering they endure beforehand.

Second, you state that “this shouldn’t be city business. The provincial government level—and the B.C. SPCA, which handles animal welfare issues for the province—is where these issues should be dealt with.”  Actually, this issue is very much ‘city business’ because it is the city that doles out the money to pay for our animal shelter to be filled with dogs from pet stores, and it’s the city that controls and regulates the pet stores via the Business licensing bylaws.  In fact, this is very much in the jurisdiction of the city, and since the pet stores continue to deny that they are purchasing from puppy mills, despite all evidence to the contrary by both CBC Marketplace and the BC SPCA, the city did what they could to regulate the pet stores and protect it’s animal shelter from abuse by industry animal dumping — a shelter that is not run by the SPCA, but by RAPS.  And even for those cities that have shelters operated by the SPCA, it was the BC SPCA that recommended that Richmond ban the sale of dogs by amending Richmond’s business licensing bylaw.

Furthermore, despite the fact that it seems to be the popular statement in the last week to say “it’s the Province’s job to regulate dog breeding and sales”, I have yet to see even one response from the Province or any indication they are going to do anything about this issue. And why would they?  It’s the city governments that suffer the costs and see the cruelty involved when animals are sold in their cities, and the Province can’t regulate what dogs breeders are doing in the States.  So unless the Province is prepared to amend the business licensing bylaws for all BC municipalities to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores — which I certainly hope they do — , the City Council was right to spend their time on this difficult and heartbreaking issue.

Christie Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition

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Converting a pet store to a humane and profitable business

Kudos to my friend Helen for sending this wonderful story about a pet store that made the change to stop selling dogs.

This pet store owner used to sell dogs from Hunte Corporation, a well-known broker and distributor of puppy-mill animals, and came to see how Hunte was lying to him about their cruel business.  Pet stores in Canada, including Pet Habitat, PJ’s Pets and Petland all sell puppies from the Hunte Corporation.

This article from Best Friends shows how a pet store owner came to see the truth.  Click here.

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“Time to legislate other end of the leash: the owner”

See original Richmond News article.

Trade breed laws for bylaws
Time to legislate other end of the leash: the owner

By Christie Lagally, Special to the Richmond News September 1, 2010

Have you ever been at the park with your children and seen a dog off-leash in Richmond that wasn’t allowed to be there? What happened then?

Did an animal control officer come over and ticket the individual?

Or worse, did the dog see you at a distance, come running across the field and engage you or your child?

Most likely, the animal control officer on duty couldn’t attend the scene because he was investigating two or three animal cruelty or abandonment cases instead, and there is only ever one animal control officer on duty.

This has been my experience in Richmond.

Not every city is like this. The City of Calgary had rampant dog bite incidents with over 1,000 bites per year in the ’80s and ’90s.

However, Bill Bruce, director of animal and bylaw service for the City of Calgary, found a way to reduce dog bites, fund animal control and enforce the bylaws while making a profit for the city.

In a nutshell, Bruce’s strategy was to increase animal control enforcement with more staff and more equipment, which in turn increased fines and income to the city by a staggering amount — enough to fund a new animal shelter.

Furthermore, dangerous dog bylaws were overhauled to discard legislation that simply focused on the breed of the dog (called Breed Specific Legislation or BSL) to determine if a dog is dangerous. Instead, the City of Calgary implemented the increasing popular notion of legislating the “other end of the leash” — the dog owners, not the dog itself, and developed a comprehensive public education program that reduced dog bites to .14 per cent per 100,000 dogs, the lowest in Canada.

Here in Richmond, we have breed specific legislation against bull breeds (such as American Pit Bull terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, and dogs that look like pit bulls — even cross breeds according to Richmond Animal Control Bylaw 7932.)

However, according to the Canadian Veterinarian Journal (2008 June; 49(6): 577-581), German shepherds, sled dogs and huskies and many ‘other’ breeds were implicated in more fatal dogs attacks in Canada than bull-breed dogs. Yet we don’t consider these breeds to be inherently dangerous.

The cities of Delta, Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver have already removed their BSL in favour of bylaws based on highly responsible dog ownership.

It doesn’t do any good if we restrict the actions of bull-breeds when an off-leash standard poodle comes running toward your child at the park. In addition, the BCSPCA adamantly opposes BSL, saying it gives communities a false sense of security when dog safety education is needed instead.

Ignoring the need to enforce animal control laws has long lasting consequences. For example, last year the City of Richmond seized two mastiff dogs who were accused of attacking a person. The owner made no attempt to get the dogs back or defend their actions, and the dogs were quickly euthanized by the city.

In most cases like this, the owner is at fault for not training the dog, not walking the dog, putting the dog in a fearful situation or, in so many cases, not even feeding the dog enough food.

The person may be fined for the dog’s behaviour and lack of adherence to the bylaws (if they are caught), but problematic owners are not prevented from owning an animal in the future. Hence, regardless of breed, any dog in that owner’s care may end up aggressive as well. And that’s exactly what happens.

Non-compliant owners get new dogs, and the cycle starts over again causing future victims pain and injury and costing tax payers more money.

Richmond, it’s time to trade Breed Specific Legislation for animal control enforcement and education that works. The Hugabull Advocacy and Rescue Society is hosting Bill Bruce to speak in Vancouver on Calgary’s bylaw transformation on Sept. 9. See for details.

Please write to Richmond city council and urge them to attend this important meeting on how to create a safer, more animal control bylaw compliant community. For more information see

Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist. View her blog at
© Copyright (c) Richmond News

Note:  Pit bull and Doberman pictures graciously donated by Hugabull.

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Tracking bylaw progress and speaking out via the BC SPCA website

So this is cool!  The BC SPCA has a website that tracks the current progress of bylaw reform in cities all over BC.  Check it out here:

This website also allows you to email your city council on the current bylaw reform issue relevant for your city.  A special thanks to Geoff Urton at the BC SPCA for sending this my way.

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Learning the lessons of canine care from Calgary

The Hugabull Advocacy and Rescue Society is hosting Calgary’s Animal Control and Bylaw director to speak about the success of Calgary’s animal control and dog safety education policies.  Find out more here on the Hugabull website.

Curious about how Calgary made changes to from having over 1000 dog bites per year to less than 150?  Check out the details here.

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Victoria, BC catching up with bunny bylaw, other cities close behind!

Victoria, BC, after years to controversy over the ubiquitous ‘UVic’ rabbits are finally catching up with Richmond and New Westminster to ban the sale of unsterilized rabbits in pet stores.  See the Vancouver Sun.  Luckily, while they are working on the bylaw, city councilors are looking at further animal welfare laws, including mandatory spay/neuter for cats, and other bylaws to protect animals. (Photo:  Jeanie the rabbit at the Richmond Animal Shelter).

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Trading breed specific legislation for bylaws that work

Richmond BC has breed specific legislation (BSL) to regulate (albeit unsuccessfully) what are termed dangerous dogs.  These dogs are identified only as bully breeds, and bylaws are not based in any fact or statistics about these breeds.  Obviously this puts restrictions on a large number of dogs and owners that have done nothing wrong, and ignores owners who have put their animals in inappropriate situations leading to animal aggression.

Luckily the Hugabull Advocacy and Rescue Society is hosting seminars for city councilors and animal control and shelter workers to learn about a successful alternative to BSL.  Please check out this wonderful event.

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They’re Breeding Like Pet Store Rabbits

I never miss an opportunity to talk to my friend Helen at the Richmond Animal Shelter.  During her days work, she encounters the best and the worst of animal owners.  This is one of her tales.

It was Tuesday afternoon, and Helen called me quite furious.  She has just received a call from a person who had purchased two rabbits — a male and a female — from a Richmond pet store.  The pair of rabbits proceeded to have lots of babies in less than 4 months, and the owners told Helen “these are not an easy pets!”.   The caller was careful to say that he had purchased the rabbits before the ban on the sale of rabbits, and that he had called the pet store and they refused to take the rabbits back.  Instead, this pet store told the rabbit owner to call the Richmond Animal Protection Society to surrender the rabbits.

Naturally, Helen was upset.  Helen and I, along with many other advocates had argued for the City of Richmond to ban the sale of rabbit because people kept buying them and either abandoning them to the park or surrendering them to the city shelter.  Pet store owners argued that they would “help out” people who wanted to give back their pets, but it now appears that was a disingenuous statement.  Instead, the pet store manager suggested they dump the rabbits at the local animal shelter.  Helen confronted the store manager on this issue, and the manager claimed they couldn’t sell the rabbits and so they couldn’t take them back.  “Well it’s a good thing we made you stop selling rabbits, isn’t it!” stated Helen.  The pet store manager had no reply.

It is, indeed, a good thing we banned rabbits, because now there are eight more rabbits homeless because of pet store sales in Richmond.  What did they think was going to happen when you sell a coupled pair of rabbits?  I hope those little rabbits find good homes.

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