Dear Mayor McKay and Council,
I am writing on behalf of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation to respond to the delegation presentation and subsequent questions of councillors regarding the BC SPCA’s correspondence requesting a ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs on Monday, August 14, 2017.
Paws for Hope Animal Foundation maintains that the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits is an animal welfare issue, and supports the growing movement across the U.S. and Canada in which cities (currently over 200) have prohibited the sale of these animals, unless they are through a qualified rescue organization.
During his presentation to council, Paws N Jaws owner, Mr. Bender stated that because he found 39 cats being sold on Kijiji, Craigslist and Used Nanaimo that there is not an overabundance of cats needing homes to justify a ban on their retail sale. He estimated that number represents 1 kitten for every 7500 residents of Nanaimo. If Nanaimo’s population is roughly 90,000, 39 kittens is actually 1 for every 2300 residents, and 1 for every 900 residents that would statistically have cats. He failed to include the fact that, on average, only 39% of Canadian households have cats and, more importantly, he failed to mention the hundreds of cats with local and regional rescue organizations, municipal shelters and the BC SPCA that are available for adoption. At the time of writing, Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association alone has 125 cats and kittens available for adoption. He also failed to mention the hundreds of cats and kittens abandoned and left to fend for themselves every year. It is a fact that there is an overabundance of cats in every community in BC.
Mr. Bender maintains he does not source his puppies from puppy mills but refuses to provide the identity of the breeders from whom he sources his puppies and kittens. This raises serious concerns about the breeding practices of those who are selling their puppies and kittens to him to sell at a profit in his store. No reputable breeder sells their animal through a pet store. It is neither physically nor economically possible for a breeder to supply the quantities of animals required to sustain his pet sales while raising those animals in conditions that meet their health and behavioural needs. In addition, reputable breeders, whether they are certified or not, screen potential families themselves to ensure their animals are going to the best home possible. They also require that at any time in that animal’s life, if the new family is not able to provide adequate care, the animals are returned to the breeder. Neither of these processes take place when anyone can purchase any pet on the spot in a retail store. The contract signed is meaningless— there is no screening done, nor is there follow up.
Councillor Fuller took issue with the BC SPCA’s statement that the Canadian Kennel Club and Cat Fancier Association members are not allowed to sell their pets through a pet store, because according to Councillor Fuller, “not everyone can afford a purebred”. He further shared that his husky cost $800 and not everyone can afford that. It should be noted that puppies at Paws N Jaws are currently being sold for between, $1,000-1,600 — double what Councillor Fuller paid for his purebred husky.
Mr. Bender conceded that his animals are left alone overnight, despite the acknowledgement, in his own store’s contract with purchasers, that this is not best for the welfare of the puppies. If the store closes a 6:00pm, and does not open again until 9:30 the next morning, those puppies and kittens are left alone in a small glass box for 15 ½ hours every day. At this developmental age for puppies and kittens, this is cruel and can lead to both health (lack of adequate feeding and not living in sanitary conditions) and behavioural problems (lack of adequate socialization).
Mr. Bender contends that puppies make up 40% of sales and if a ban was passed, he would go out of business and have to default on his lease. Given there are hundreds of pet stores across the province that do not sell animals—there clearly exists a proven and profitable business model for Mr. Bender that does not involve the sale of puppies and kittens.
I have attached more detailed, information letter on the issue of pet sales in stores.
The time has come to end this inhumane business practice, exploiting companion animals for profit. The vast majority of Nanaimo residents do not want to see cats, dogs and rabbits sold in pet stores. Nanaimo City Council has an obligation to all residents, not only small business owners.