BtC: Advocating a Retail Pet Sale Ban for Calgary

Back in October 2010 I participated in the Blog the Change for Animals for the first time.  The city council in Richmond, B.C. had just agreed to pass a by-law banning the sale of dogs and puppies in pet stores, which is an important step in curbing the puppy mill industry.  In my post, my first point for how the average person can easily help combat puppy mills was to canvass your local government to implement a similar ban in your city.

And that got me thinking: I should practice what I preach!

Calgary, while a remarkable city in many ways when it comes to Animal & By-Law Services, currently does not have such a ban in place or any other restrictions that would help to prevent puppy mill sales (i.e. required breeding licensing, for example).  And I think it should.

Such a ban will help prevent both impulse pet purchases in pet stores and puppy mill pet sales.  It will also help ease the strain on local rescue organizations, with statistics coming from Albuquerque, New Mexico that show a 23% increase in shelter adoptions and a euthanasia decrease of 35% only a few years after enacting their ban.

Four days later I sent my letter to Mayor Nenshi and all council members requesting consideration of a ban in Calgary prohibiting the retail sale of companion animals (specifically, both dogs and cats).

And then what happened?


I e-mailed, I faxed, I posted my letter online and I literally received zero response from anyone.  A big fat goose egg.  Not even a form “thank you for showing an interest in your local government, now PFO”.

I waited a couple of weeks and re-sent my letter.


Well, not entirely.  Someone did notice, and that someone was Corporate PetLand.  I went back and forth with the nice folks over there for a while on the issue, and even that has since died off.

But you know what?  I’m not giving up.

In fact, my goal for 2011 is to band together with a group of like-minded individuals and hopefully generate a higher profile voice that won’t get filed in the city’s shredder.

Because while I truly enjoyed discussing the issue with the PetLand representatives and learning about their opinions on this subject, I remain to be convinced that this is a detrimental approach to the problem.

In fact, since I initially wrote my letter in October, Austin, Texas has enacted a similar ban of its own.  St. John’s, Newfoundland’s council has also received a proposal for a similar ban, and there is a group actively advocating for a ban in Toronto as well.

More locally, a St. Albert store, Paradise Pet Centre, has voluntarily ceased selling dogs and cats (after 30 years of retail pet sales) in order to encourage rescue adoptions.  If all other pet stores were similarly minded, I wouldn’t have to be writing this.  Unfortunately, they’re not, so implementing a ban will essentially force compliance for the benefit of the animals.  I’m okay with that.

Of Paradise Pet Centre’s new policy, the Edmonton Humane Society says: “The Society does not support the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores.  The EHS feels that a pet store selling animals for a breeder is ultimately encouraging irresponsible breeding….  Many times pet stores sell animals that originate from puppy mills and sometimes do not even know it.”

Edmonton Humane Spokesperson Shawna Randolph adds: “We hope that [other pet retailers] will follow suit and recognize that a humane business model in a pet store is successful.  It’s estimated that Canadians spend about 6 billion dollars a year on their pets, which proves that stores do not have to sell animals to make a profit.”

Calgary has recently taken a number of steps to help curb pet overpopulation, including a spay/neuter assistance program and the national 2011 Year of the Cat initiative that focuses on responsible pet ownership to combat the ever-increasing population of unwanted cats in shelters and rescue organizations.

With the acknowledgement that there is an abundance of homeless, unwanted or rescue animals within the city, it seems logical that retail pet sales only add to the problem.  Instead of commercially purchasing a new pet, there are more than enough out there in need of adopting.  In fact, retail pet sales actually add to the unwanted pet population when pets purchased on an impulse later get surrendered.

So if you agree that there are enough companion animals out there already in need of homes without the consideration of commercial pets sales, and want to help prevent puppy mill sales and impulse pet purchases, I ask you to join me (or begin a similar campaign in your own city or municipality).

How you can help:

–        Send a letter to Mayor Nenshi and your Alderman (or all of city council), asking them to consider and implement a ban on retail pet sales.

–        Spread the word and help create buzz.  Animal advocacy is (sadly) not the “sexiest” political issue out there, so extra effort is required to create headlines and achieve results.  Tell your friends and anyone you know in the pet industry who is willing to speak out (trainers, groomers, rescues, etc.) and advocate a ban – get the industry behind us!

–        Don’t shop at the stores that do sell pets; if they get the message and willingly opt to feature shelter adoptions rather than sell pets, then we don’t even need said ban. Win-win!

–        Know anyone looking for a new family member?  Promote adopting a rescue dog or thoroughly researching reputable breeders.

–        Don’t be discouraged.  It’s hard, but a worthy cause.

Help prevent puppy mills and homeless pets!

In March 2010, Valerie Berenyi of the Calgary Herald Blog My Dog Sez wrote advocating a ban on the sale of dogs in retail outlets.  If you’re not going to listen to some unknown blogger like myself, listen to her.

As I appear to be technologically challenged and cannot get the blog hop list to appear properly, please visit the Blog the Change website to see the list of other participants in the BtC event, visit their blogs, and read about their causes.

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

25 Responses to BtC: Advocating a Retail Pet Sale Ban for Calgary

  1. kenzohw says:

    Kudos for not giving up! Wonder why the national government is not picking this up. It is too easy for a puppy mill just to keep exporting to another state. I just visited Kristine’s blog and was under the impression that selling pups in the whole of Canada was allowed. Glad to hear that at least that is not the case and some states have smartened up! I am from Europe, happily most European countries have a ban on selling pups from pet store.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention BtC: Advocating a Retail Pet Sale Ban for Calgary « Back Alley Soapbox --

  3. Keep working on it!!! It’s certainly difficult work to make such huge amount of change….but it’s such important work!! I’m from the States and while my city a state allow puppy/kitten sales in stores, I’ve been glad to see 90% of Petland (puppy/kitty selling store huge puppy mill supporter) have been put out of business…. such a great cause, thanks for sharing!

  4. This is such an important and valuable cause- don’t give up! I really do think that a lot of time repetition and repetition and repetition (exactly what you are dong!) is exactly what is required to get through to people. They may not hear you the first or fifth or tenth time- but they *will* hear eventually because this *must* be the direction taken going forward.

    Keep it up!

  5. This is an excellent goal, and even though it might seem to be unreachable today, you just got one step closer… keep it up!

  6. Pup Fan says:

    I agree… don’t give up! It’s great that you’re pushing this issue – it really needs to be addressed!

  7. Kim Clune says:

    I remember when you wrote about this in October. I admit now, as I just read your introduction, to feeling hopeful that you had made headway. Instead, I was less than surprised to learn that you haven’t, even for all your effort.

    Thanks for taking on the local government with this less-then-sexy cause. It may not be sexy but it’s rock solid and dead on. If so much coverage about puppy mills during Blog the Change today is any indication, the general zeitgeist is in your favor. And I’m totally rooting for you!!


  8. thatjenk says:

    Thanks to everyone for the comments, encouragement and moral support!

    Puppy mills do seem to be a “hot topic” in this BtC. Hopefully I will have something more positive to report in April’s event.

  9. veryvizsla says:

    remember young grasshopper, let your inner a**hole shine through to get some results 🙂 I admire your determination in sticking to your cause and thumbs up to Paradise Pet Center! Choosing animal welfare over proven profits takes a lot of guts. If I lived in Calgary, I would go out of my way to shop there!

  10. CindyLu says:

    You are so right to pursue this issue. Hang in there, perseverance rules the day!

  11. Helen Savkovic says:

    “With the acknowledgement that there is an abundance of homeless, unwanted or rescue animals within the city, it seems logical that retail pet sales only add to the problem. Instead of commercially purchasing a new pet, there are more than enough out there in need of adopting. In fact, retail pet sales actually add to the unwanted pet population when pets purchased on an impulse later get surrendered.”

    My friend, Christie Lagally, who was a force to be reckoned with during the campaigns to ban the sale of rabbits and then puppies in pet stores, says “What do you do when the bath tub is overflowing? You turn off the tap.”

    • thatjenk says:

      I follow Christie’s blog! She’s a huge inspiration and fountain of knowledge after the success in Richmond.

      • Helen Savkovic says:

        I wish we could send a clone of Christie to every city that could use her expertise. She is tireless in her work to save animals – she doesn’t just work hard – she works smart.

  12. Kristine says:

    Thank you for writing this and for caring enough to take some real action.

    I lived in Calgary for a few years before I moved to Halifax and that city is miles ahead! It’s a struggle here to even get puppy mills shut down, let alone pet stores that sell them. But I know I am not alone in this community and I think it is time I join in the fight. You saw the letter I wrote to a local pet store chain, but I didn’t think of writing one to the city mayor. Now I will. And I will try to get others in my city to do so as well. You have to start somewhere, right? Let’s make this a country-wide movement!

    • Helen Savkovic says:

      I know what you mean about Halifax. I was there a couple of weeks ago visiting a friend. I tried 2 or 3 big grocery chains to find cage free eggs from hens allowed to scratch outside – nothing. However, I do love the work that Pierre’s Alley Cat Society is doing with cats in Halifax. They are a fabulous group.

      A good first step would be to find a council member who supports a ban on puppy mills and pet stores.

  13. Pingback: Updates from the field: Efforts to end retail animal sales « Christie Lagally

  14. WAY TO GO! Such a worthy goal. In Richmond, BC (near where I live) this same idea has caught the attention of town council. Every voice counts and it is SO exciting when the town leaders finally started to hear you. Keep it at, you’re doing a great thing for the animals!

  15. gotspots says:

    Keep on doing what you are doing! I know a friend from New York holds peaceful protests with signs in front of a puppy selling store there. Thank you SO much for doing what you are doing even if you aren’t hearing anything back. At least you are trying. Which is more than we can say for some people. Kudos to you!

  16. Kyla Duffy says:

    Keep it up! Could you let us know where you got those Albuquerque stats? I’d love to have that resource on-hand. I would think Calgary would be responsive, as it is very progressive with dog laws. I read in Pit Bulls: Villains and Victims that they have one of the lowest dog bite rates since the by-laws were enacted three years ago. Is that right?

  17. christie says:

    Thank you so much for all your hard work!! I live in Calgary and have been trying to figure out ways to get involved and make a difference with all this. I will definitely pass on this blog and information to people I know! And please if there’s anything you might need to do directly please ask!! Maybe we can even put our heads together and make some progress! Don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks!

    • thatjenk says:

      Thanks for the support! If you get a chance to send a letter to your Alderman about this, I’d be curious to know what kind of reply you get – if any.

    • thatjenk says:

      That’s a heartbreaking story and awful for you and your family (and the puppy) to have gone through. But thank you for sharing – it’s an important reminder of what’s going really going on.

  18. Pingback: The Ideal Chinchilla Breeder

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