As you may or may not have heard, I would like pet stores to stop selling live animals. And if the stores themselves won’t opt to stop selling pets by their own accord (and, happily, some do, such as Paradise Pet Centre in St. Albert), then I am not opposed to forcing their hand by way of municipal bylaw.
Back in November, during the course of my back and forth with a number of Petland employees in the comments sections here on my blog, the following was said about my position on the issue, by Petland’s Director of Animal Care and Kennel Operations:
“The thought of raising my children in a city where we can’t go to a pet store and experience the wonder, excitement, and joy of owning a pet is a sad thought indeed- and that is what Jen K is asking the City of Calgary to do.”
The Pet Store Grinch wants to rob you of childhood happiness.
Now, if she’s looking to silence her opposition, this is definitely the route to take because I nearly died of laughter.
But once I caught my breath, some immediate thoughts came to mind.
First, I’d like to note that I am intentionally disregarding any complaints I may have that the “pet store experience” is not actually all it’s cracked up to be, and, like a zoo, it can actually be a pretty depressing place. Cages. Fluorescent lights. Ick.
But I’ve digressed, and I now have the following official objections to the attempted guilt trip.
1. The Beloved “Experience” is Not Lost
I have suggested more than once that pet stores take the stance recently adopted by Paradise Pet Centre or Petland in East Liberty, PA, and start featuring only animals up for adoption by local rescue organizations.
In this scenario, I’m happy because the pets aren’t being commercially sold (the shelter or rescue will still control the adoption process) and more visibility is given to rescue organizations and their available adoptions.
And it also means that you can still take your child into the pet store, and they can still look at and play with the available puppies, kittens, birds and bunnies. To the eyes of the child, nothing will change.
2. You Will Still Be Able to Get a Pet
Pull your head out of your ass.
Ah. Sorry. I slipped. Let me start over.
By advocating for a retail pet ban, I am not looking to ban pet ownership itself, which should be clear. Instead, I am looking to encourage responsible pet ownership. Pet stores market to that “puppy in the window” syndrome, and yes, impulse pet purchases happen. And then surrenders happen and the rescue pet is created.
I would truly appreciate it if someone would explain to me how encouraging people to find a reputable breeder or go through a more thorough adoption process with a rescue agency are negative consequences of a pet store ban.
No, I admit you won’t likely be able to take your new pet home within a day or even a week of deciding you want one, and you may have to spend some time and jumping through a couple of hoops before your adoption is approved. But at the end of it all, you will have matched your family with a suitable pet who will bring you years of joy, wonder, and excitement.
Even The Grinch had a pet. In fact, in the movie from 2000, The Grinch’s loyal dog Max was played by six different mixed-breed shelter rescues.
3. There Will Be No Pet Shortage
There are already enough dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets out there who need good homes without adding commercially bred and sold pets into the market. Taking away the ability of Petland and others to sell animals is not going to result in a sudden decrease of available pets.
Take Calgary and area, for instance: there are lots of rescues and shelters overburdened with pets in need of good homes.
Here, a compiled list for you in alphabetical order:
Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS): A non-profit organization whose mandate is to rescue abandoned, surrendered or abused small animals (dogs and cats) from First Nations Communities in Central Alberta and place these animals in the safety of a foster home system while awaiting suitable placement in forever, adoptive homes.
Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF): ARF’s mission is to rescue stray and unwanted dogs and cats from First Nations and rural areas and place them in loving, permanent homes while providing programs to reduce pet over-population.
Calgary Humane Society: It’s even organized like a pet store, where you can see and meet adoptable cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, chinchillas and aquatic animals.
City of Calgary Animal Services: Give a rescued or surrendered dog or cat a second chance.
Cochrane & Area Humane Society: Re-homing dogs, cats, non-companion barn cats, and other animals such as rabbits. The Cochrane Humane Society is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the well-being of animals, sustained by volunteers and the community.
Furever After Rescue Society: A non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue of dogs from high kill shelters, disasters, neglect and other tragic situations from Canada and the United States.
Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue Foundation: Providing shelter, care and nourishment to abandoned, abused and homeless domestic animals (dogs and cats) within High River and the surrounding area.
MEOW Foundation: MEOW Foundation is a registered charity and humane society with a no-kill mandate. We facilitate the adoption of the stray and abandoned cats that we rescue into new loving, permanent homes.
Misty Creek Dog Rescue: Misty Creek Dog Rescue takes in dogs from pounds, reserves, other shelters and voluntary owner surrenders providing them with medical care, vaccinations, and behavioural training with the aim of finding them forever homes. Because of the strict no-kill mandate, dogs may stay at the shelter for years until they are successfully placed with a suitable family.
Oops-A-Dazy Rescue and Sanctuary Society: Helping adoptable dogs, cats, and even pot belly pigs and other farm animals such as donkeys, goats, and alpacas.
Pawsitive Match Rescue: Pawsitive Match saves dogs facing life-threatening circumstances in Canada, United States, Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and the Northwest Territories. The dogs come from shelters that have no choice but to euthanize due to over-crowding or because they are shutting down.
Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue: Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue is dedicated to rescuing and finding homes and adopters for dogs and cats. We frequently rescue dogs that have been abandoned, found starving, often traumatized and freezing, on the Morley Reserve near Calgary.
Not in Calgary or the surrounding area? Canada’s Guide to Dogs has a rescue directory for each province.
And if you think that’s a lot (and I’m sure I missed some), the foregoing list also does not even include any of the breed-specific rescue organizations out there. For example:
Want a Great Dane? Check out For the Love of Danes Rescue.
A pit bull? How about Pit Bulls for Life Foundation of Alberta?
A basset hound? Then there is Calgary Basset Rescue.
Labrador Retreiver? See Calgary Purebred Labrador Retriever Rescue, unless you’d prefer a Golden Retriever. Or a Chihuahua? A Jack Russell Terrier? A Daschund? Looking for a bird? How about Birdline Canada Ltd.?
Basically, if you have a certain breed, or even species, in mind, try this:
Google: [breed] + rescue + [City/Province]
By now I hope I’ve sufficiently illustrated that there is an abundance of rescued or surrendered pets out there in need of permanent homes.
And if this still isn’t your preferred route, there is a large population of reputable breeders out there to apply to as well, and Canada’s Guide to Dogs has an extensive directory for them, too.
I would also like to take this opportunity to also note what is explicitly outlined in the Canadian Kennel Club Code of Ethics:
Section III, General Responsibilities, subsection (g). No breeder shall sell or donate dogs for the purpose of their being auctioned, raffled or to pet stores.
So now I’d like to go back to the original question and ask: What exactly am I robbing the City of Calgary of, again?