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Not for sale: Vancouver pet stores banned from selling dogs, cats, rabbits

Animals in pet stores encourage impulse buying, according to animal welfare groups.

Pet stores are no longer be able to sell dogs, cats, or rabbits in Vancouver.

Natalie Behring / Getty Images

Pet stores are no longer be able to sell dogs, cats, or rabbits in Vancouver.

If you want that doggie in the window, you’ll have to go elsewhere – Vancouver city council banned the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores Tuesday.

The unanimous vote comes after 2,000 people called the city and more than 4,000 others signed a petition to complain about the welfare of animals at pet stores.

City council asked staff to prepare a bylaw banning the practice in June and while preparing their report, staff found only one store, Pet Habitat, that sold puppies and cats. The store closed its doors on Dec. 7, according to Kathryn Holm, the city’s head of licensing and animal services.

“We visited the site and we confirmed that there are no cats or dogs or rabbits,” she said.

“At this point, we have effectively eliminated this type of business in Vancouver.”

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Pet Habitat, which sold kittens, puppies, and other animals, moved from its Metrotown location to Granville Street near 71st Avenue in the summer of 2017. The move prompted animal welfare activists to call for an official ban on the retail sale of those animals in Vancouver.

Prior to Pet Habitat, no pet store in Vancouver had sold puppies for more than a decade, according to Kathy Powelson, executive director of Paws for Hope.

“It took a lot of people by surprise because people assumed there was already a bylaw. So, we encourage even cities that don’t have pet stores that sell animals to pass a bylaw because it prevents those kinds of stores from opening up, which we saw happen in Vancouver.”

Vancouver's bylaws still allow pet stores to display dogs, cats, and rabbits if the animals come from a shelter or rescue organization.

Delta banned the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in November and Surrey is currently considering a similar ban, with staff scheulded to bring a report to council in the new year. Richmond, New Westminster, and North Vancouver already bans in place.

The BC SPCA says pet stores are not suitable places to buy a puppy or kitten because many source animals from puppy mills or other problematic breeders. Animals in pet stores also encourage the impulse buying of pets, which leads to crowded shelters when people get bored of the animal, according to the organization.

Those who want to welcome a cat, dog, or rabbit into their home can consider adopting from a shelter or finding a reputable breeder, according to the BC SPCA.

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