Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Puppies, kittens and rabbits stay on Burnaby shelves

November 26, 2013 Stefania Seccia, Burnaby Now

Burnaby has gone to the dog sellers. At Monday night’s city council meeting, an Oct. 21 staff report amending the animal control bylaw, banning the sale of turtles, but continuing to allow the sale of puppies, kittens and sterilized rabbits, passed.

While councillors and the mayor discussed their decisions, council chambers were split down the middle – on one side sat pet store supporters, and the other side, animal advocates.

Almost 30 pet store supporters brought professionally printed signs stating “Stop killing Burnaby pet stores,” and “The solution is more pet stores.” About the same amount of animal advocates showed up with handmade signs, stating “Pet stores – A death sentence for shelter animals.” However, inside council chambers everyone holding a poster was told to put it down and hide it to respect decorum and those presenting at the meeting, by Maryann Manuel, acting deputy city clerk.

Presentations at the Nov. 25 meeting were both for and against staff recommendations. The first presentation to council was by Katherine Kinman, owner of the King Ed Pet Centre in Burnaby, which sells animals and pet supplies. She charged that the “self-promoting” animal rescue groups asking for a ban on pet sales see pet stores as competition for clients and money.

“What are we teaching our kids? If there was a bad mother, according to their logic, every mother in Burnaby is bad,” she said. “Every mother should be punished by taking their children away and taking them to an orphanage.”

Following her presentation was one by Maria Soroski, of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue, who supported a full ban on pet sales in Burnaby.

Soroski went over violations lodged against Metrotown’s Pet Habitat pet store. She also clarified a claim on his website that the owner, Tom Peters, reached out to her society to work together. She said she’s never spoken to Peters or heard from him before.

Soroski gave USDA violation records against Pet Habitat's breeder to council, including a June 2013 case where a shih tzu had hair and fecal matter matted to its buttocks and its rectal area was covered in feces. “The owner refused to remove the animal from the enclosure, the shih tzu, and asked the inspectors leave the property,” she added. “These are … important animal welfare violations.”

The last presentation was made by Richmond resident John Crocock, in support of pet stores being allowed to sell animals. He criticized the rescue groups that showed up to council to make presentations that were not local and did not always provide Burnaby-specific information.

Crocock, a friend of the King Ed Pet Centre store owner, said the rescue groups are unregulated and are not as transparent as pet stores.

He said he was disappointed by the lack of conversation the issue should have created between rescue groups and pet stores. “I always thought, and still think, pet stores are the easiest way to obtain high standards of care because above all they are the easiest to access, compared to special interest groups, like the so-called rescue groups,” said Crocock. “We have no idea what they’re doing themselves.”

The B.C. Societies Act and the Canada Revenue Agency govern all societies in the province.

Coun. Dan Johnston said he did not support the staff report and that puppies and kittens should come from an environment with proper nutrition care and a sense of safe being for the first few weeks of their lives.

“This is a contrast to breeding animals in rows of cages, stacked three to four layers high with little personal interaction,” he said. “Then to spend six to eight weeks in a pet store in a glass cage, (with) under-supervised youngsters staring and banging the glass doesn’t sound like a nurturing environment to me.” Johnston also said it was curious that the two biggest pet store chains in Canada do not sell puppies and kittens, but somehow still manage to operate.

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal was not present at last night’s council meeting but sent in a note stating that while he felt the report did strengthen the animal control bylaw,  he did not support the sales of animals in pet stores. But Dhaliwal could not vote on the issue, or vote by proxy. However, all the other councillors and Mayor Derek Corrigan voted “yes” on the staff report. Johnston was the only vote counted against it.

Read more: Pet Habitat, District of North Vancouver, new rabbit bylaws, come on Burnaby!