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Animal welfare advocates petition to end puppy sales in Vancouver pet stores

An online petition, calling for a ban on puppy sales in pet stores, garnered 2,000 signatures in two days

Animal welfare advocates say puppies should not be sold at pet stores.

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Animal welfare advocates say puppies should not be sold at pet stores.

Animal welfare advocates are calling on Vancouver to ban the sale of animals in pet stores over concerns that a Burnaby pet store that sells puppies and kittens may open a location in the city.

The online petition, which garnered 2,000 signatures in two days, alleges that pet stores that sell dogs get them from puppy mills where advocates say animals are bred in deplorable conditions. The pet-store owner rejected the claim.

“Animals that come from pet stores, all animals, right up to dogs, they come from inhumane breeding practices,” said Kathy Powelson, who started the petition. She is also the executive director of the animal welfare advocacy group, Paws for Hope.

The BC SPCA has lobbied for similar bans in cities before and were successful in Richmond, according to Amy Morris, a BC SPCA policy outreach officer.

New Westminster enacted a bylaw in 2012 that bans the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores.

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Powelson says the petition was created in reaction to rumours that the owner of Pet Habitat, a store in Metrotown that sells puppies, kittens, and other animals, was planning to open a new location in Vancouver.

No pet store in Vancouver has sold puppies in many years due to public pressure, according to Powelson, but she wants the city to ban the practice outright.

“We’re trying to be proactive so that [Pet Habitat] is not able to open up a store and sell animals in Vancouver,” she said.

The City of Vancouver currently allows pet stores to sell animals, including dogs. The bylaw stipulates pet-store owners must give animals sufficient food and water, shelter, exercise and grooming.

The owner of Pet Habitat told Metro he is thinking about opening up another location in the Lower Mainland that would provide boarding and training services as well as an indoor play area for dogs.

He maintains Pet Habitat only sells puppies from breeders who give their dogs proper nutrition and care.

“We get them from breeders that we know. We inspect their facilities and they comply to our standards,” said Ernest, who Metro is identifying by his first name only because he fears animal advocates will retaliate against him for speaking out.

The Canadian Kennel Club does not allow its members to sell to pet stores.

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The BC SPCA recommends people looking to welcome an animal into their home try to do so via adoption from a shelter or rescue, first. Additionally, people who buy from breeders should do so in person so they can see how the dog’s parents are cared for. 

Morris says it is theoretically possible for businesses to sell puppies responsibly, but that would require them to socialize the puppies by taking them out on walks to a variety of places while they wait to be sold.

Pet-store owners usually don’t devote resources to that type of care, she explained.

“It’s possible,” she said.

“Do pet stores do it? Well, that’s a whole other question.”

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