A forgotten battle

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November
13

Sent to us from a concerned Burnaby resident, this puppy in Pet Habitat in Metrotown is living in glass cage with his feces

Sent to us from a concerned Burnaby resident, this puppy in Pet Habitat in Metrotown is living in glass cage with his feces

July 16, 2012 was a pivotal moment for Paws for Hope. On that day, I appeared as a delegate before Burnaby City Council to request a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. Without sending out a press release, the media came in droves. I appeared on CBC’s Almanac at noon, I was top story on CBC’s 6 o’clock news hour, and for days after, I was fielding calls from various news outlets, such as the Georgia Straight and other community newspapers. Backed by a coalition of rescue organizations and community members, approximately 20 people attended the council meeting that night. The majority wearing our Pets Are Not Products t-shirts. It was a powerful site and I was humble and inspired when the room broke out into applause at the end of my presentation. It felt like there was a movement beginning and we were going to create important change.

Over the next 15 months, while we waited for Burnaby staff to present their report and recommendations regarding this issue, I did my best to keep the movement alive. I kept up to date on bans that were happening around the world, I continued calls for the community to write to Mayor and Council in support of the ban and I would stay connected to our supporters and coalition members. We had posters made and they would be circulated via social media every few weeks. If we were at an event, we would make sure to pass our posters and sell t-shits.

But as the months passed, I began to feel I was fighting this fight on my own. I began to feel that while everyone seems to support a ban on the retail sale of pets, they do not care enough to want to do anything about it but “like” my posts on Facebook and retweet my tweets. Emails to our coalition members were unanswered, calls for volunteers to participate in flashmobs and other guerilla style marketing stunts where met with silence and perhaps the most disappointing of it all was the response when staff finally presented their four page report that did not recommend a ban on the retail sale of cats, dogs or rabbits.

Or should I say, lack of response.

No one seemed to care. Other than the local newspapers, the media did not show up; the coalition was silent…it was almost like I made it all up myself. And unlike the previous summer, when I presented in October to respond to staff’s report, five people showed up (well nine if you included the owners of the stores in Burnaby who sell pets). There has been no talk about the November 18th meeting, when council will vote on these recommendations. There has been absolutely no reaction. Nothing.

Why are we not rounding the troops? Why hasn’t there been a flood of letters to the editor? Where are the experts? Where is the media? Why does no one care that on Monday, November 18 Burnaby City Council will more than likely ignore all of the animal welfare, consumer protection and tax payer concerns that arise when animals are bred and sold for profit and will vote in favour of recommendations that do absolutely nothing to protect animals?

For the dogs that suffer their entire lives in puppy mills; for the cats and rabbits abandoned once they are considered an inconvenience…where the hell is everyone?

Photo credit: http://www.helpinghomelesspets.com/puppymills/

Photo credit: http://www.helpinghomelesspets.com/puppymills/

Kathy Powelson
Executive Director

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