Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Pet store closure sends exotic pets to SPCA for "care"

March 20, 2004 By Michelle Young - Kamloops Daily News Reporter

A Kamloops exotic pet store that shut down this week handed 51 animals over to the SPCA including cockroaches, snakes and lizards.

Kamloops SPCA manager Jennifer Gore said Friday the reptiles were being shipped to a rescue agency in the Lower Mainland that specialized in those creatures. Some of the animals were in bad shape and one lizard died within a few hours of being taken in, she said.  "We offered to take whatever animals were left," said Gore.

Kamloops Jungle Pet had been monitored by the SPCA for a while due to a number of complaints about the conditions of the animals in the store, she said. The shop was sold in early March to new owners. They sent out a press release Friday stating they were closing the store permanently and that they had found some dead and sick animals in the shop when they took it over.

Among the creatures taken by the SPCA were 20 rats, a pregnant chinchilla, hamsters, a ball python, an albino king snake, a baby corn snake that requires hand feeding, several lizards and geckos, a bearded dragon, two large red-eared slider turtles and some Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

A thin mother cat and four two-week old kittens were also handed over. They are in an SPCA foster home.  Gore said the store’s new owners have been co-operative.

The shelter has had people bring in exotic animals often because the creatures live longer than expected. Gore noted a young red-eared slider turtle in the front entry was left by someone who didn’t realize its life span is 15 to 20 years. Red-eared sliders originate from warm-climate countries, but there are 300,000 in the wild in B.C. as a result of owners turning them loose in the ecosystem, she said.

The B.C. SPCA has a policy against the trade of keeping of exotic or wild animals for several reasons, including disease risks to people and other animals, they have special needs, and are easily stressed, escapes and abandonment are common, and they experience suffering and high death rates while being captured and transported.  "The conditions many of them are transported in are horrendous," she said.

Kelowna recently passed a bylaw banning the sale of trade of exotic animals within its city limits. City Coun. Terry Lake said council should look at sale and ownership of exotic pets. There isn’t a lot of expertise in terms of the animals’ care either in the home or even on the veterinary side, he said.  Plus, if exotics escape, they can be harmful to people or other animals or even the environment, as in the case of the red-eared slider turtles.  "So from a humane point of view and safety point of view it’s a concern of mine," he said,

"What we’re seeing at Jungle Pet is exactly the concern I have as a city councillor and a veterinarian."  Lake has formed a loose committee to look into exotic animal ban bylaws, but it hasn’t met yet. He said if such a bylaw was adopted, it would be enforced on a complaint basis. "When you have a bylaw, it serves as a piece of education for people," he said.

Paul Springate at the Rainforest Reptile Refuge in Surrey said most people buying an exotic animal don’t know anything about it. And often the information they get at the store is wrong.  "They buy it as a novelty," he said. "It usually wears off. Most of our animals come to us in their first year or two of life."  Springate said lizards and geckos can live at least 15 or 20 years, snakes and iguanas 20 - to 30 years.

"If you’re buying an exotic, chances are you’re paying the poacher when you buy it," he said. "It’s cruelty to animals to have reptiles as pets. … Anything that you have to keep in a cage does not make a suitable pet."

Comment:  The SPCA had received a number of complaints about this store and should have acted faster.

150 animals seized from Maple Ridge pet store  

January 7, 2005 - The Province

A Maple Ridge pet-store operator promised yesterday to improve conditions at his store following the seizure of 150 animals by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Greg Penno, co-owner of Mr. Pets, said the failure to respond to earlier SPCA warnings was the result of the busy holiday season.  "It was a small, little incident that kind of escalated into something larger," said Penno, whose company also has outlets in Mission and Port Coquitlam.

The SPCA had previously given the pet store a formal warning over overcrowding, lack of proper perches and having water dishes instead of water bottles for the small animals. The lack of compliance resulted in the seizure of 24 birds, six rabbits and 120 rodents. Charges are pending.

"I'm investigating why that [complying with SPCA rules] didn't take place," said Penno. "I'm quite upset by that. We're going to rectify these issues."  The SPCA said the store had been visited "repeatedly" and told to make changes. "We had been working with the manager or owners of the pet store and they failed to comply," said Eileen Drever, the SPCA's senior animal-protection officer.  The seized animals are being cared for at an SPCA shelter.

Comment: Despite this, Mr. Pet’s was allowed to open a new store in Vancouver in late 2005. The second floor is full of fish, birds, reptiles, and other critters, including some rabbits.

Update 2008: Greg Penno has sole ownership in all locations. Rabbits are supplied by Dragon Trading, a large commercial enterprise located in the Lower Mainland.

December 19, 2011: Mr. Penno has suggested we let our readers know that “the SPCA will be communicating directly with the owners” if a concern about the store’s animals is not addressed promptly. He further added that Mr. Pet’s has recently “provided” donations to the organization.  

Pet store owner charged with failing to provide proper care

Animal protection agency says numerous complaints have been made over dirty, crowded cages
Thursday, May 05, 2005 Elaine O'Connor The Province
A Burnaby pet store owner will appear in court next month to face charges of animal cruelty after a B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals bust.

Thomas Peters, owner of Pet Habitat in the Brentwood Town Centre, is accused of failing to provide proper veterinary care for a sick animal and keeping animals in substandard conditions. "Over the past five years we've received numerous complaints on this pet store," said senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever.
The agency claims a sick puppy was found "with its ribs visible, lethargic and depressed, with laboured breathing" and birds were found with overgrown nails in dirty, crowded cages. One bird had a broken leg. Rodents were kept in cracked fish tanks. "The problem with this gentleman is we have advised him over and over again to seek immediate veterinarian care for any sick or injured animals and he has failed to do this," Drever said.
But Peters, who has owned the store six years, disputes the claims, and accused the B.C. SPCA of going overboard with a spate of inspections at pet stores in the region. "I think basically, the SPCA had a vendetta against all the pet stores," he said.
"We welcome them to come by, but all of a sudden there is a big change [in standards] and they don't even tell us what's going on, they just say this is wrong, that's wrong."  He explained the ill animal was a wire fox terrier with a cold. It was eventually put down.
"It was under treatment here in the store, and they said that I had to take it into the vet and they figured because I hadn't taken it that I hadn't been doing treatment in the store and that was considered neglect."
Peters has been summoned to appear in court on the charges June 2. He plans to dispute the charges. If convicted of animal cruelty under the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, he faces up to six months in jail, a maximum $2,000 fine and a prohibition on owning or keeping animals.
Peters said pet store owners have asked the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC) to intervene and clarify care standards with the B.C. SPCA.

Comment: Pet Habitat has several franchise stores in the Greater Vancouver area and all have received complaints.  The BC SPCA and the City of Burnaby, where this particular business has been operating since 1989, were notified numerous times with regard to sick animals and unclean premises. 

December 1, 2011: Good news - Pet Habitat in Brentwood Mall is closing its doors March 31, 2012! The Rabbit Advocacy Group recently wrote to Burnaby officials regarding the history of this store and asked that new bylaws be created that would ban the sale of rabbits in pet stores. A review of the Animal Control Bylaw has been initiated and the results will be forwarded to Council for consideration sometime in 2012. 

July 20, 2013 new Facebook page launched: Ban Live Animal Sales in Pet Stores Canada https://www.facebook.com/BanLiveAnimalSalesInPetStoresCanada   

January 15, 2012 MLA wants law to target puppy mills

March 30, 2012 Jane Thornthwaite’s Bill, tentatively titled “Standards of Care for Breeders of Companion Animals (dogs and cats),” is near completion. An event is planned at the Legislature in Victoria on April 23rd when the bill will be presented. Rabbits have been excluded, despite discussion to have them included. Jane said that since it is a private member’s bill she had to refine and focus on something that will be acceptable to all and has a reasonable chance of becoming a reality. She hopes to expand it to include rabbits and birds in the future.  

April 23, 2012 MLA wants rules to curb puppy mills

Comment:  A small group of us were on hand to support Thornthwaite’s bill and were acknowledged during the introductions:  In the gallery today I have some friends and supporters who were out on the Legislature back steps earlier on to help me with a media event introducing my private member's bill, which I will be doing shortly. I ask the House to please welcome…Carmina Gooch, Terry Roberge.. 

J. Thornthwaite presented a bill titled Standards of Care for Breeders of Companion Animals.

Bill M214, was introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today. 04/23/12 Afternoon Sitting 2012 Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament  

Thornthwaite said: “This bill outlines the expectations of dog and cat breeders in B.C. It declares that pets are not merely a source of income, but rather loving, living creatures that deserve to be treated in a safe and humane manner. I would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions and input from veterinarians and local animal welfare organizations. Without their knowledge, advice and support, this bill would not have been possible.”   

Rabbits matter equally, as do all the other critters exploited for pet industry, so it’s important that everyone contact their MLA. This bill is just a beginning, and needs to be expanded to include other creatures, as well. Let’s get them on a par with dogs and cats!  

June 1, 2012 The final sitting of the spring 2012 legislative session was yesterday. Unfortunately, Bill M 214 was not passed into law despite the support of all parties, the veterinarian community, and the public. Opposition came from a small but vocal minority, the breeders. A particular sticking point was section 14 regarding surgical procedures. It would prohibit dew claw removal, tail docking, ear cropping, and declawing. These cruel and unnecessary practices have been banned in many countries, so it’s merely a matter of time before this legislation is passed here in BC. 

February13, 2016 B.C. moving on tough new rules for commercial dog and cat breeders (update 2017 & 2019)

July 2, 2019 BC: Legislation has been passed in the province to establish a licensing system for breeders, but the system has yet to be put in place.

Related info & news on our Animal Welfare Page

City looks to ban pet sales while Doggie World sign comes down 

Langley Times, January 19, 2010

B.C. SPCA has confirmed that the City has been consulting with it on drafting two bylaws. The City is looking to ban any future pet stores from opening and to regulate current pet stores. “We are taking a hard look at all our bylaws and consulting with our solicitor on what we have the legal authority to do and not do,” said Mayor Peter Fassbender. “We are moving this as fast as we can. When issues come up like this, you want to look at what you can do.”

Doggie World is the City’s only store selling puppies, but it would be grandfathered under the new bylaw. Last week it shut its doors for renovations after a strain of parvo virus killed a number of puppies it sold to people. Other people have also bought sick puppies from Doggie World and a swell of complaints has come into the City, the SPCA and Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS).

On Tuesday, the puppy store sign came down and a large garbage bin was being filled. A moving-type truck was there on Monday night. The Doggie World website is down and it appears they are moving out of the City storefront.

The City may also look at new regulations for current pet stores with respect to the welfare of the puppies and keeping records as to where their puppies are coming from, said the SPCA. “The City has moved very quickly on this and we are immensely pleased. It is our hope to present two bylaws for council’s consideration at their Jan. 25 meeting. If it passes, this could be a trickle effect for other municipalities,” said Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the SPCA.

The SPCA officially opposes the sale of animals in pet stores. In a recent statement, Langley’s animal shelter recommends that if people wish to buy a puppy instead of a shelter dog, they should ask for full disclosure documents about the dog’s background and temperament.

Before Christmas, the City had investigated Doggie World, along with animal control officers from LAPS, after both agencies received complaints about the puppy store. Animal officers counted more than 130 puppies in the store at one time a month ago. The City has required Doggie World fix several Building Code violations in order to reopen.

Concerns over Doggie World continue as is interest by the public in joining a protest outside the store if it re-opens on Jan. 21.

More people have come forward with allegations of sick dogs, or ones bought and since treated for parasites. One man, who doesn’t want to be named, had bought a puppy for his wife and daughter for Christmas. Their dog of 12 years had just passed away from old age so he felt it was time to get a new one. He brought home Max and they adored him. He was sick within four days and died 12 days after being purchased. Doggie World did give them a full refund this week. Doggie World has also offered full refunds for all dogs that have died.

In The Times letter pages last week, many residents questioned why Langley City allows the sale of puppies.

January 21, 2010 

Langley considers regulation of pet stores selling puppies 

The City of Langley is looking at regulating pet stores that sell puppies. This follows a number of complaints from buyers of sick dogs from Doggie World, who bought what they hoped would be their future pets, only to watch them become sick and sometimes die. 

NEWS 1130 Do you think pet stores should be banned from selling puppies?  Yes (70%) No (30%) 

January 21, 2010 

From: Carmina Gooch, President
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
To: Mayor Fassbender and Council
Cc: Carolyn Bonnick, Legislative Services
Re: Pet Store Regulation Bylaws 

Dear Mayor and Council: 

The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC has been asking that municipalities address the unregulated breeding and selling of all animals for many years, although rabbits have been our primary focus.  Unsterilized baby rabbits are most often bought on impulse for a child and just as quickly become unwanted and abandoned. 

In light of the horrendous news of the number of sick puppies being sold at Doggie World in the City of Langley, and the subsequent deaths of others shortly after purchase, this is an issue that requires immediate action.  Whether it's puppies, birds, or rabbits, the animals exploited for the pet industry endure terrible suffering, neglect, health/genetic problems, and death.  Raised by backyard breeders or in mills, the sole purpose of these commercial enterprises is for financial gain, made off the backs of innocent and vulnerable creatures.  I'm sure you're aware of many media stories of undercover investigations or seizures by agencies like the SPCA that have exposed the daily cruelties and inhumane conditions of those bred, warehoused, transported, and sold to the public. 

Despite the attempts of groups like ours to educate the public about buying from a pet store, it's clear the message isn't being heard by everyone.  It seems people just can't resist that playful baby animal they see in pet stores.

In order to protect the animal, the consumer, and the community, I strongly urge you to enact new bylaws that will help in a collaborative effort to reduce the loss of life and other consequences of this industry. 

Please consider the welfare of all species in your decision to modernize legislation. 

Sincerely, (personal info removed)

Animal welfare: All pets need protection

Langley Advance Friday, February 5, 2010  

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the coverage of Doggie World and the bigger issue of selling animals in pet stores [City looks at pet sale policy, Jan. 29, Langley Advance].

Baby rabbits are exploited by the industry as “starter pets” for young children, and are most often bought on impulse. Most end up abandoned into the community, unsterilized, once the novelty has worn off. Legislation regarding the breeding and selling of companion animals is long overdue.

For your interest, Rabbit Advocacy’s letter to Mayor Fassbender and Council:
(Header as above)

Dear Mayor and Council:

The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC has been asking that municipalities address the unregulated breeding and selling of all animals for many years, although rabbits have been our primary focus. Unsterilized baby rabbits are most often bought on impulse for a child, and just as quickly become unwanted and abandoned.

Whether it’s puppies, birds, or rabbits, the animals exploited for the pet industry endure terrible suffering, neglect, health/genetic problems, and death. Raised by backyard breeders or in mills, the sole purpose of these commercial enterprises is for financial gain made off the backs of innocent and vulnerable creatures.

I’m sure you’re aware of many media stories of undercover investigations or seizures by agencies like the SPCA that have exposed the daily cruelties and inhumane conditions of those bred, warehoused, transported, and sold to the public. Despite the attempts of groups like ours to educate the public about buying from a pet store, it’s clear the message isn’t being heard by everyone. It seems people just can’t resist that playful baby animal they see in pet stores.

In order to protect the animal, the consumer, and the community, I strongly urge you to enact new bylaws that will help in a collaborative effort to reduce the loss of life and other consequences of this industry.

Please consider the welfare of all species in your decision to modernize legislation.

Carmina Gooch, RAG BC © Copyright (c) Lower Mainland Publishing

April 9, 2014 Mel Gerling, puppy miller, banned from owning animals after conviction on cruelty charges

February 19, 2016 update: B.C. puppy mill operator, Mel Gerling, convicted of cruelty denied appeal