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Burnaby pet stores to continue selling live animals
It appears dogs, cats and rabbits will continue to be allowed for sale in Burnaby pet stores, but not turtles, according to a Burnaby city hall proposal.
The second half of the city's update to its animal control bylaw will, if approved by council, include regulations for pet stores where there were none before. It includes a requirement that pet store owners or employees not be convicted of an animal cruelty offence.
It will require all rabbits sold to be spayed and neutered first, and sales of turtles in pet stores will be banned as a way to protect wetland environments.
But animal welfare advocates, who had called for a ban on the sale of live animals in pet stores, out of a concern they are supplied by "mills" where animals are bred for profit under substandard and unhealthy conditions, appear to be out of luck.
The city staff report says animals sold in pet stores make up a small percentage of animals available for sale. While some stores offer pets for sale through a rescue society, the one Burnaby pet store that sells live dogs, cats, birds and fish had 30 dogs and 20 cats for sale during a recent city staff visit, compared to Internet postings offering 1,011 dogs and 497 cats for sale in Metro Vancouver.
And while there is a lack of standards for breeders, "pet stores can be held accountable for their actions by provincial cruelty legislation and local bylaw regulation," the report said.
Since 2008, the BC SPCA has received 67 complaints about pet stores, of which 49 per cent were deemed to be "without merit" following an investigation, it said. Five complaints resulted in an order being issued and in each case the business complied.
The bylaw review included a comparison of animal control bylaws in the five neighbouring cities of Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Richmond and Vancouver. The report states that all but one has pet store regulations while Richmond was the only one that banned the sale of animals, namely dogs, in pet stores.
In fact, New Westminster also banned the sale of both dogs and cats in pet stores in October 2012.
Kathy Powelson, executive director of the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, which had spoken to council in support of a pet sales ban, was "extremely disappointed" by the staff recommendations.
It follows council's recent approval of continuing and strengthening breed-specific legislation targeting pitbulls, which Powelson also opposed as being unfair and ineffective at addressing the problem of irresponsible owners.
Powelson said none of the measures in the latest proposed changes to the bylaw address animal welfare issues.
Banning the sale of turtles has more to do with the impact of invasive species, such as many pet turtles when they're dumped in local waterways, than a concern about the animals themselves, she said.
And requiring rabbits to be sterilized before sale may address an overpopulation problem but doesn't prevent the problem of people abandoning rabbits when they find they're more work to care for than expected.
The only reason Burnaby doesn't have a rabbit overpopulation problem is because it also has a healthy coyote population that preys on abandoned rabbits, she said. The proposals also don't require cats to be spayed or neutered when feral and free-roaming cats have become "a huge problem."
As for bringing the city in line with neighbouring municipalities, "why did they do that with the pet sales but not with breed-specific legislation?" Powelson said, referring to the fact Burnaby is one of only three cities in Metro Vancouver with such legislation.
"Ironically, the one municipality that has a ban [on live pet sales], which they didn't follow, has breed-specific legislation," she said of Richmond.
"It makes my head want to explode."
Burnaby council was to consider the bylaw amendments at its Monday council meeting. If approved, the Community Charter requires that people affected by a change in business regulation be given the opportunity for input.