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Council has mixed reaction to pet store bylaw
Burnaby's proposed new regulations for pet stores got a mixed reaction at Monday's council meeting.
The proposed changes to the city's animal control bylaw would establish regulations for pet stores—aimed at ensuring the animals are cared for properly and to protect consumers—where there were none before.
Animal welfare groups had called for a complete ban on the sale of live animals in pet stores out of concern that they're supplied by "mills" where they're bred in substandard and unhealthy conditions.
Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said the changes were headed in the right direction, citing the proposed ban on the sale of turtles due to concerns they're often dumped in local waterways, and a requirement that rabbits be spayed and neutered before they're sold.
"They're good steps but they're very small steps," Dhaliwal said.
He said he's concerned about the welfare of dogs and cats being kept in small glass cases all day while on display in pet stores.
"I do not see how the welfare of animals is addressed in this report, it's not."
Dhaliwal said the bylaw could be improved by addressing concerns about impulse buying created by having animals on display.
He also wants to see cats spayed and neutered before they're sold to prevent an overpopulation, leading to cats often ending up abandoned and at the city's animal shelter. Of the measure for rabbits, he said, "that's the smaller of the problems, the bigger problem is the cats."
Coun. Pietro Calendino agreed more must be done to prevent the overpopulation of cats.
"We know the number of feral cats is growing in the city," Calendino said.
He also suggested the bylaw seems lenient and without much teeth to go after pet stores who don't care for the animals properly.
However, Coun. Paul McDonell was in favour of the proposals as they are, noting that unlike with online sales of pets, pet stores can be held accountable.
"If you ban it from stores you're not curing the problem because the percentage [of pets sold in retail stores] is so small, but at least you have some way of tracking it, you know [the animals] have their shots," McDonell said.
Mayor Derek Corrigan agreed, saying city hall can't control breeders, online pet vendors and what happens when owners bring their new pets home, but it can regulate pet stores.
He also wasn't convinced impulse buying is as much of a problem as some make it out to be. The concern is that it leads to pets being given up when owners discover they're more work and expense than they realize.
"I don't know how impulsive people are when it comes to spending $500 [on a pet]," said Corrigan. "I know I mean it when I spend $500."
Council is seeking public input on the bylaw proposals over the next two weeks before it makes a final decision.