BtC: Advocating a Retail Pet Sale Ban for Calgary
January 15, 2011 25 Comments
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.
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.
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.