Prohibit the Commercial Resale of Cats, Dogs & Rabbits in Pet Shops in the Town of Whitby

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Prohibit the Commercial Resale of Cats, Dogs and Rabbits in Pet Shops and other Retail Establishments in the Town of Whitby 

To Mayor Don Mitchell and Members of Council

We seek that the Town of Whitby implement pet shop licensing standards and related by-law amendments to prohibit the commercial resale of dogs, cats and rabbits unless sourced from a municipal shelter, humane society or a registered rescue group.

Whereas, pet shops and other retail establishments in the Town of Whitby can sell animals for profit that contribute to an unregulated industry of puppy mills and commercial breeders. Peer-reviewed studies conclude that such animals are typically produced by intensive breeding in substandard conditions. This results in their incurring a high number of communicable diseases (zoonosis), and adverse genetic and neurological symptoms, as well as behavioural issues; and,

Whereas, unlike a registered CKC breeder, pet shops often promote impulse buying, do not screen homes or educate buyers, and often house animals in environments non-conducive to their health. Consumers are denied the opportunity to approach the breeder(s); inspect their operations or premises; access the pups’ or kittens’ parents; access medical records (if any exist), or ask questions, thus consumers are not protected; and,

Whereas, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) Member Breeders’ Code of Practice expressly and unequivocally forbids breeders to sell to pet stores. Section III (g) states: “No breeder shall sell or donate dogs for the purpose of their being auctioned, raffled or to pet stores”; and,

Whereas, Humane Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, notes that over the past decade, the puppy mill industry has increased in Canada. Puppy mills are increasingly registering their dogs with online registration bodies that are not recognized in Canada, such as the North American Purebred Dog Registry; further, such registration does not guarantee a puppy’s health or quality.

The following Ontario cities and towns have placed restrictions on the commercial resale of pets from pet stores: Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, Vaughan, Kingston, London, Wellington, Waterloo, Georgina, Oakville, Cambridge, Richmond Hill, Markham, Oshawa, Stratford and Chatham-Kent; and,
currently the Town of Newmarket is reviewing the same.

The Humane Society of Durham Region has recently stated that: “we…support the ban of the sale of animals in pet stores, retail establishments, flea markets and online, unless they are from a municipal shelter, humane society or recognized community rescue organization.” Further adding: “By stopping the sale of pets in stores and through online agencies, it will both reduce the number of unaltered and potentially unhealthy animals entering the community and it will help the rescue organizations find homes for those animals already in shelters. It’s a win-win situation.”

In 2011, the City of Toronto unanimously passed a bylaw that bans the commercial resale of animals in stores. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who put forward the motion, stated that pet stores that sell animals are bad for pets and consumers.“They’re kept in small cages, they’re not socialized, they have immense health problems,” he said.“Consumers are getting ripped off.” The bylaw stipulates that stores cannot sell dogs or cats unless obtained from a municipal shelter, a humane society or registered rescue group. The bylaw also serves to reduce euthanasia by steering consumers to animals that have been health-checked and spayed/neutered. “It really slams the door closed on people who mass-produce animals for profit,” said Councillor De Baeremaeker.

As an example, The Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Centre, in a detailed discussion paper of retail pet stores, author Ashley Duncan concluded;'If consumers are truly concerned about the welfare of animals in the current retail system, they must demand either a cease in the sale of pets at retail stores or a boycott in those stores that exhibit unscrupulous practices. Further, inhumane conditions in pet stores will never be addressed unless concerned customers are willing to report such conditions to local animal control officers. The bottom line is that animals are seen as commodities in the retail pet industry. When profits are at stake, it will always be hard to assure animals are given the care they deserve'.

Background Most puppies in Canadian and Ontario pet stores were imported from mills in the United States prior to 1995. But in that year, new legislation was enacted to regulate the import of puppies from the U.S. The new law required that puppies be micro-chipped, vaccinated and health-checked by a veterinarian. Because many U.S. shipments did not meet these standards, this measure was successful in reducing the number of puppy exports entering Canada. Unfortunately, the decrease in imported puppies from the U.S. has created a demand that is now met by an increase in Canadian mills.

Furthermore Thousands of unhealthy companion animals, sourced from mills, must be put down every year by their owners and municipal animal services. This creates a financial burden on the consumer, the municipality, and inflicts great distress to pets and their owners.
We believe that such licensing provisions and by-law amendments will address these key areas of concern: Animal Welfare - Consumer Protection - Public Health and Disease Prevention

Reputable pet stores, such as PetSmart and PetValu, have long recognized the problem and have opted to work with the community by bringing in rescued cats and dogs into their stores from local shelters and rescue organizations to help re-home them, instead of being a part of an otherwise harmful industry.

Without such restrictions there remains the potential for pets to be openly traded within a commercial retail environment and where there is nothing preventing a new pet shop from opening and selling mill animals or an existing pet shop that currently does not sell, from recidivism.

As we are sure you will agree these are sentient domestic animals that require constant care and environmental enrichment. We therefore need to re-evaluate the current retail practice so that we put the pet’s interests and that of the consumer ahead of such unregulated profiteering.
The City of Vaughan' Report This typifies many other municipal staff reports that have reviewed pet shop licensing restrictions and in part states:
* Adoption of the recommendations contained within this Report reflects a more progressive and proactive approach intended to reduce proliferation of strays resulting from unwanted and abandoned pets, and greater protection of health and well-being of our communities, environment and natural wildlife

* Restriction of the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores and all retail establishments has been raised as a concern by various citizens and the broader public at large. Concerns have included that the majority of dog and cat sales through retail establishments are sold at an age where the dogs or cats are too young to be spayed, neutered or adequately vaccinated; in essence adding to further proliferation of unwanted pets, risk of transmissible diseases such as rabies, and increased demands placed on animal services in many municipalities.

* It is reasonable to conclude as other cities have, that more effective regulatory controls provide a governance system that offers greater confidence in our communities, supports greater consumer protection and public health, can contribute to further deterring “hoarding” and unlawful “puppy mill” operations from operating within Ontario (in accordance with and supportive of OSPCA mandates) and from a broader, more global perspective, these proposed measures contribute to the greater good and welfare of the community and the welfare of the animals within.
 
* Arguments in support of a bylaw include:
o Greater prevention and control of spread of zoonotic diseases through preventative disease control.
o Improved health and well-being of the animals, reducing the likelihood of rabies transmissions to both animals and humans.
o Supports interest of OSPCA
o Animal welfare
o Reduces the burden of unwanted pets surrendered to animal shelters.
o Minimizes prevalence of animal overpopulation, abandoned animals and strays.

To Conclude
Pet stores get their animals from two sources; commercial kennels or backyard breeders. These operations, that have been found in our region are solely there for profit. They prey upon the unsuspecting consumer who otherwise all too often believes there are legislated safeguards and protocols already in place. The adult breeding animals are housed in unimaginable conditions, kept in pens or cages their entire lives, suffering from disease and parasites; many which are 100% transmittable to humans. The puppies coming from these operations often succumb to poor health, are not socialized and develop behavioural issues that have led to large medical bills for the unsuspecting owner.

The population of unwanted pets is at epidemic proportions. Currently there are 1560 dogs available for adoption in a one hour radius around Whitby on petfinder.com. The number of dogs entering Canadian shelters and rescue organizations each year is estimated at two million with one million being euthanized each year, through no fault of their own.

Communities such as the Town of Whitby will benefit with the proposed licensing amendments as animal control and the community at large (community rescue organizations and those whom foster) will not have the burden of housing, caring and feeding these unwanted and abandoned animals.

Implementing such provisions would support the stated position statements of other municipalities and respected organizations such as, the Ontario SPCA, Humane Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Humane Society Durham Region, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and a host of other organizations and agencies throughout the province of Ontario and Canada.

Therefore, we urge the Town of Whitby to enact licensing provisions and related by-law amendments to regulate the sale of companion dogs, cats and rabbits in pet shops and any other retail outlet, to ensure they are sourced only from a municipal shelter, the humane society, or a recognized community animal rescue organization.

 



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