ASLC: Launch Success!

Whew!  What a weekend!

It was so great to see all of the support Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) received at the adopt-a-thon this weekend.  The petition got a lot of signatures, we sold some t-shirts, and we got a lot of offers from people and businesses interested in helping out, which was always welcome.

Like I said earlier, this is my first experience on the front lines of any sort of “activism”.  And I will be the first to deny I am a “people person” in any way, so it was quite something to be striking up conversations with as many strangers who walked through the door as possible, seeking support for the cause and a signature on the petition.  I know our petition requires an address, but take it up with the Municipal Government Act (Alberta) – I promise we won’t turn it into a mailing list of any sort!

It was also a great learning experience and good practice for more events to come in the near future.  For example, next time we will have additional signage: sorry folks, the stickers are actually for sale.

And best of all, it was a great gauge for public reactions to the Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) campaign.  Of course, being at an adopt-a-thon, an overwhelming majority of people were decidedly in favour of a retail pet sale ban for Calgary.  Some of my favourite comments over the weekend were:

– I read about you in the Calgary Herald and came down to sign!
– I wondered when Calgary was going to do this.
– It’s about time!
– I’m so glad to hear someone has started this.
– I won’t even buy poop bags at a store that sells live animals.
– I got my dog from a pet store – never again.
– I only adopt rescue animals.
– Let me know how I can help.

Definitely the bulk of people, when asked to sign the petition, would simply say “of course” or “that’s great” and happily sign away.  A smaller group of people would gladly sign after getting more information and learning exactly what ASLC was all about.  Here are some of the common questions we were asked:

“I live in Okotoks, can I sign?  Can my kids sign?”

Unfortunately, the legal requirements of the petition mean only signatures of electors of the City of Calgary are valid.  Which is very unfortunate, because we had to turn away many people who wanted to be counted.  I encourage these individuals to lobby for a similar ban in Okotoks, Airdrie, or where ever you’re from!

“So where will I get a dog then?”

This one kind of made me giggle (no offence).  We were in the middle of an adopt-a-thon that had over 100 dogs and cats up for adoption; they just had to turn around and look.  The removal of commercial pet sales is not going to result in a pet shortage.  I assure anyone with this concern that they will still be able to find dogs and cats at shelters and rescues, and with reputable breeders.

“Shouldn’t we regulate breeders?”

ASLC is focusing the initiative on the sale of dogs and cats on public and commercial properties only, and the petition wording concerns only that.  This will end the retail pet sales that promote a pets-as-commodity perspective, and prevent puppy mills and backyard breeders from distributing and advertising on public and commercial properties such as roadways and parking lots.  Commercial sales are the most visible sales medium of substandard and unintentional breeders.  The truth is, reputable breeders would never surrender their puppies or kittens to a pet store for sale.  The Canadian Kennel Club prohibits pet store sales, and reputable breeders want to ensure themselves that their animals go to good homes.

“What about the pet stores that feature rescues?”

They will not be affected.  We would love to see more collaboration between big retailers and rescues to get adoptable animals showcased.  Adoptions in these instances still need to go through the rescue organization, but the store serves as a way to introduce the public to the other options out there.

“But I just like to go to the pet store to play with the puppies for a little while and nothing else.”

Don’t worry, if pet stores opt to feature rescues (and some already do), you can still go in for an hour of socialization.  You can also go to places such as the Humane Society, where you can meet the animals, or even volunteer to walk the dogs and play with the cats.  If you’d like a slightly longer, but still not permanent, commitment, offer to foster for one of the rescues.  And many of the pet stores I know that refuse to sell animals still have the employees’ or owners’ dogs or cats in the stores most days to visit with.

“What about my breeder – are you going to shut them down?”

No.  Well, as long as they are responsible and reputable, we aren’t.  We would like only the responsible, reputable breeders to be the people you go to when you have a particular breed of dog in mind (well, them and breed-specific rescues).  Reputable breeders are those who put the health and care of the animals – both the offspring and the parents – first.  They do not breed females every heat, or often even yearly.  They do health and lineage checks.  They will provide you with lifetime support and advice, and will offer to re-home your dog for you if circumstances change and you can no longer care for them.   They will also put you through an extensive adoption application, usually requiring in-person meetings to see how you interact with their dogs before they determine you will be a suitable guardian.  They will also often contractually require you spay or neuter your dog by a certain age unless there is an alternative breeding agreement in place.  And when they say their animals come with “papers” and pure bred registration, that means the CKC.  I will again note that the CKC prohibits its members from selling their dogs to pet stores.  ASLC has already had some great feedback from breeders in support of a pet store ban.

And, of course, we did get a small number of people – no more than half a dozen all weekend – who did not sign the petition or agree with the ASLC cause.  As they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – and that includes opinions.

For example, there was one couple who seemed personally offended by the cause because they had bought their dog from a pet store (actually, their teenage son did, and they inherited the dog when he moved out).  I understand that reaction, especially if they did not have a particularly negative experience, and because they could view the ASLC cause as telling them they got their pet the wrong or uneducated way.  Indeed, we are saying that and I stand by it, but I do hope they went home and looked into the concerns about pet store pets a little more and give the issue some serious thought.

However, for a very small group of nay-sayers, there was a much larger population of whole-hearted support, which was certainly encouraging.

Thank you, Calgary, and everyone at the adopt-a-thon, for a successful launch!

Keep an eye out for more ASLC over the coming weeks, and check the website for locations if you’d like to buy the merchandise or sign the petition.


This is Kiwi. She was at the adopt-a-thon with AARCS, and was one of many dogs and cats who found a forever home over the weekend.

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

5 Responses to ASLC: Launch Success!

  1. Way to go, it’s an awesome start, once you’ve succeed in Calgary, fly to Winnipeg and head up their campaign! 🙂

    I told everyone at my dog park about what’s going on in Calgary, and the uniform response was, “It should be law everywhere!” When I told my kids, they couldn’t understand why anyone should need convincing! You go girl, the world is behind you!

  2. Congratulations on your successful weekend! I can only imagine all the hard work you’ve put into this worthy cause. Kudos!

    Yay for Kiwi and the others for finding forever homes!

  3. Trish says:

    “Reputable breeders are those who put the health and care of the animals – both the offspring and the parents – first. They do not breed females every heat, or often even yearly. They do health and lineage checks. They will provide you with lifetime support and advice, and will offer to re-home your dog for you if circumstances change and you can no longer care for them. They will also put you through an extensive adoption application, usually requiring in-person meetings to see how you interact with their dogs before they determine you will be a suitable guardian. They will also often contractually require you spay or neuter your dog by a certain age unless there is an alternative breeding agreement in place.”

    Petland does everything you mentioned above.

    I’d like to ask what your overall objective is…obviously it’s to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores in Calgary, that is clear. But what about kijiji, craigslist, any internet “breeder”, tailgate “breeders”…what about them? The SPCA inspects Petland stores on a regular basis and they’re still open for business, they’re obviously doing something right. Petland has their own rescue foundation, the Pets For Life Foundation. They rescue dogs and cats from rural dumps and other deplorable environments and adopt them out through the Petland stores in Calgary. Petland requires all owners who adopt ANY animal from their store to sign a Pets for Life agreement, which requires them to bring the animal back to them should the situation arise where the owner can no longer care for that animal. The animal is then “re-homed” which again, is no different than what a breeder would do. It is no different than the agreement you put far greater value on from a “reputable breeder”. Petland also has a spay/neuter agreement which requires the owner to have the animal spayed or neutered within a certain time frame, however in some markets the animals are already spayed or neutered before adoption (which I understand you are also against early spay/neuter but that’s a different story for a different day…)…

    And yes, Petland sells Flexi Leashes. I’m sorry, but I know plenty of people that are perfectly responsible with their Flexileads. Eventually you are going to have to start putting some responsibility on “bad owners” and not just the retail locations that are there to supply the basic needs of the animals of this city.

    Please understand that you are defaming the hundreds of people that work for a great organization by putting forth claims of abuse and neglect. Petland employees work there because they LOVE ANIMALS.

    I realize you will never change your mind and you obviously have your own agenda. But you need to understand that banning the sale of puppies at petstores in Calgary will solve nothing. Education will.

    This post is a little all over the place but I feel so passionate about these points that I just started typing and this is what came out. I have worked for Petland for over 9 years and I am confident we are doing the right thing. There will always be areas to improve on and we have always been at the forefront of change and improvement. We are here to help animals and their owners through all stages of life.

  4. I care about real solutions says:

    Against Early Spay and Neuter?!!? Now I thought the idea of banning the sale of pets was misguided but this just shows how retarded some people are. Major Veterinary Associations around the world are supportive of Early Spay and Neuter:

    Canadian Veterinary Assocaition
    American Veterinary Association
    British Small Animal Veterinary Association
    European Society of Feline Medicine
    Feline Advisory Bureau (UK)
    WINN Feline Foundation

    The commercial sale of pets is not the cause of the pet overpopulation problem, it is the distribution of intact animals to the general public who then go on to intentionally or accedentally breed these animals, who fail to comply with spay or neuter agreements and then find themselves with an unwanted litter and an animal who’s unaltered temperament is something they cannot manage. It is these irresponsible members of the general public that then dump their unaltered animal and her litter at the local shelter creating the bulk of unwanted shelter pets. Who think that having “just one litter” will somhow improve her disposition or that breeding her will “bring in a little cash”.

    When Temple grandon goes into large animal handeling facilities and makes recommendations for how these facilities can operate with the welfare of animals in mind, she is making a difference – she recognises that saying we should all become vegetarians is not going to happen, and instead works hard to create systems that are more humane.

    Likewise banning the sale of pets in pet stores is misguided. Creating systems that promote animal welfare for pet stores may actually make a difference.

    It is not the selling of pets that is wrong – it is the conditions they are raised in, and teh care they recieve that we must be concerned about.

    Early Spay and Neuter should be required by law inorder to sell any pet that is not part of a registerd breeding program. This simple procedure would eliminate all teh unplanned litters and would make back yard breeding unviable.

    • thatjenk says:

      For some context about the early spay/neuter comment you picked up on above, please see this whole post here: Spay/Neuter: When, not Why –

      As far as rescue organizations who do prepubertal spay/neuter, I completely agree. And in many other circumstances, too. And of course, unless you are CKC breeding I think you should spay/neuter your dog eventually – no question.

      But as a large-breed dog owner, where early spay/neuter can have detrimental long-term effects, I would not neuter my dog prior to his being at least one year old. See the post for a full explanation.

      The pet shop employee above made the comment because I saw a 9 week old bulldog in a store window last November that was already neutered and wondered if that called health concerns into question. Then again, maybe pet stores – until they stop selling dogs and cats altogether – should do early spay/neuter, since the relatively unimportant promise of a rebate doesn’t seem to be doing the trick for their customers.

      I disagree and maintain that the retail sale of pets IS wrong – treating them like a commodity and marketing them as you would a new tv or pair of shoes. Marketing them as a mere product (rather than a long term family member) leads to poorly thought out sales and purchases, and less educated owners – which inevitably leads to unaltered pets, “oopsie” litters, and surrendered pets.

      Using pet store space to feature adoptable animals – that the rescue organization will be in complete control of re-homing – promotes welfare and makes a difference. When this city (and the country as a whole), has a serious cat population problem, how can a pet store justify selling kittens that are bred for their store windows?

      And bred by whom – a serious question that remains to be answered. When several signs point to high-volume or substandard breeding operations (“mills”), your very point about humane care systems comes up.

      Not to mention the impulse pet sales that go to the very “irresponsible members of the general public” you mention.

      No one is saying pet stores are solely responsible for pet overpopulation. But they are a piece to the puzzle.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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