Dear Mayor McKay and Council,
As you know, the City of Vancouver recently voted unanimously in favour of creating a bylaw that would ban the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits. Today, I am writing you to ask that Nanaimo join Vancouver, Richmond and New Westminster (and over 200 cities across the U.S. and Canada) in the prohibition of selling dogs, cats and rabbits in pets stores—unless they are from a qualified rescue organization or shelter.
There are many compelling reasons to ban the retail sale of pets in Nanaimo. Animals sold in pet stores do not come from responsible or reputable sources. In fact, they cannot come from a certified Kennel Club breeder because that organization prohibits its members from selling to pet stores. The animals come from ‘mills’: commercial breeding facilities or back yard breeders that operate with an emphasis on profit. The mills’ conditions are usually substandard and force the animals to live in inhumane conditions.
And the problems do not end once the animals reach the stores. In a retail environment, potential pets almost never receive adequate care. Thus, at a critical time in their development, they are not properly exercised or socialized which is not only cruel but leads to behaviour issues. Further, mills and backyard breeders produce pets that often have health problems. These include but are not limited to eye/ear/respiratory infections, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and heart and liver conditions. Obviously, these conditions result in suffering to the animal, but they also present a consumer protection issue. Their new pets’ health conditions can cost the owners tens of thousands of dollars.
Of course, many people are not willing or able to assume these unanticipated costs. As a result, many pet store animals are surrendered to shelters or, worse, abandoned. These high surrender/abandonment statistics are exacerbated by the fact that pet store purchases tend to be ‘impulse buys.’ What should be a carefully-considered decision is made hastily without a full understanding of the significant responsibility associated with pet ownership.
Nanaimo is one of the few cities in BC that has a store that sells cats, dogs and rabbits and I no longer want to see these animals sold at Paws and Jaws, for despite what they say, their animals cannot be coming from reputable sources. A bylaw to ban the retail sale of pets and the inhumane business practices it supports will send the important message that Nanaimo is committed to the responsible and humane of companion pets.
In an ideal world, all pet owners would be motivated to adopt from their local shelter or SPCA, but this is not realistic. Rather than adopt, many people prefer to buy their pets from a breeder. A ban on pet store sales would not hinder these individuals. It would simply steer consumers toward responsible purchases. Breeders who practice humane business would not be affected. There are very few or no downsides to banning the retail sale of pets.
I want my community to be a humane community—and a humane community that does not allow the suffering of any animal.