Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Burnaby staffers say puppies and kittens still OK to peddle

October 18, 2013 Stefania Seccia, Burnaby Now

Coming off the heels of the breed-specific legislation decision, Burnaby city staffers are once again recommending amendments to the animal control bylaw that work against what the activists want.

Following a delegation more than a year ago from Kathy Powelson, executive director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, asking for the city to ban the sales of puppies, kittens and rabbits – city staff instead is suggesting keeping the sale of puppies and kittens, requiring the spay and neutering of rabbits and banning the sale of turtles.

Council is expected to table the report at its Oct. 21 meeting to allow the public to comment on it over the next two weeks. Then it will make its decision to move forward with the recommendations after the two-week period.

“Animals for sale in pet stores make up a small percentage of animals available for purchase,” Denise Jorgensen, director of finance, states in her report. “The Burnaby store held 30 dogs and 20 cats for sale at the time of a recent staff visit.”

Jorgensen states a lack of standards for breeders at provincial, national and international levels can be addressed by local bylaw regulation. “Pet stores provide an open and accessible option for people looking for a pet and can provide information and advice not only at the point of sale, but also once a pet is at home,” she adds. “In order to prevent rabbit overpopulation problems experienced in other cities, only spayed and neutered rabbits should be permitted to be sold in Burnaby.”

As the Burnaby NOW previously reported, turtles being dumped in city parks, taking over the native turtle territory, is the reason why the city is recommending that turtle sales be prohibited.

Jorgensen also states in almost half of the instances where a complaint was lodged against a pet store, it was determined to be without merit. Of the five complaints that resulted in an order being issued, the B.C. SPCA reported that in every instance, the business cooperated and complied.

The city also reviewed what five neighbouring cities do and found that only Richmond has banned the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits. Jorgensen said the common practice was implementing regulations that protect the animals for sale. The B.C. SPCA and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council also supported greater regulation of pet store operations, according to Jorgensen.

“The decrease in the number of dogs and cats taken in at the Burnaby shelter over the past five years is a positive trend,” she states. “These decreasing shelter numbers suggest an improvement with respect to the long-standing concerns of pet overpopulation.”

However, Powelson said the whole report is disappointing. “I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m really disappointed and, to be honest, I just really don’t know what to do from this point,” Powelson told the NOW. Powelson noted that the report does not address any of the animal welfare issues she brought forward in her delegation, regarding the puppy and kitten mill problem.

“Sterilizing rabbits does nothing to address the abandonment issue, which is the issue that I brought up,” she added. “One of the things that I talked about was the issue of rabbits dumped in our parks, but we don’t see them because they’re eaten by the coyotes or eagles, unlike other communities that don’t have the coyote problem like we do.”

Powelson noted that spaying or neutering a rabbit is also more expensive than doing it to a cat or dog. “I never once addressed the conditions animals were held in, in the store because that’s the least of our concerns and the concern is that these animals, particularly puppies, are coming in … from puppy mills,” she said. “Recommending adequate food and water (in the store), the only reason why it’s new is because they didn’t have any stipulations prior to this.”

Powelson called the report disgraceful and doesn’t know if she’ll be out to speak against it, following the treatment people received when they spoke out against breed-specific legislation. “It’s smoke and mirrors. And in terms of our energy, having watched last month with how the issue of BSL (breed-specific legislation) was handled, I don’t feel that it’s a good use of our time, our supporters time to go before council and present,” she said. “We’re not going to go away. I just don’t feel like it’s worth my energy to sit in a meeting and read a report … that is absolute crap to me.”