- BC Games
BC SPCA asks for ban on sale of cats and dogs at retail stores in West Van
The BC SPCA wants the sale of cats and dogs prohibited at retail stores in West Vancouver, citing “filthy conditions” typical of puppy mills that sometimes supply stores, lack of proper animal socialization and impulse purchases that are part of many pet stores.
Tim Earle, representative from the West Van SPCA, sent a letter to district council asking for the ban, and added the accusations aren’t directed at Canpets — the only pet store in the municipality — specifically, but at pet stores in general.
Although the animal welfare organization wants a blanket ban throughout the district, Canpets in Park Royal South is on Squamish Nation land and under different rules.
Formerly Noah’s Pet Ark, the shop sells kittens and puppies, as well as rodents, reptiles and fish.
The district, however, has no plans to ban pet stores, said West Van spokesman Jeff McDonald.
“If this becomes a serious issue it’s something we could look into but we have no plans at the moment to do that,” he told The Outlook.
The Squamish Nation didn’t get back to The Outlook by press deadline when asked if it is considering banning pet stores selling live animals.
Earle said many people aren’t aware of the problems that can be associated with buying animals from pet stores.
“Animals suffer daily because of widespread and unscrupulous practices of breeders, dealers and pet stores who turn a blind eye to the fact that the animals they sell are often subject to inhumane conditions,” he writes, again not accusing Canpets of any of these practices.
Alex Go, representing the owner of Canpets, said he gets his puppies from specific breeders he knows well and goes to private homes for kittens.
“If you come into our store and see… the space they live in, it’s comfortable,” he said. “They need the space and they need the comfort as well… There are times when they go into the big playroom and interact with each other.”
Earle hopes a ban on pet stores selling cats and dogs will prevent any other stores from doing so.
Almost all dogs in pet stores are sourced from suppliers who breed high volumes of animals with little regard to welfare, he claimed, adding cats and dogs often lack proper socialization and travel long distances and “even die in transport.”
Go, however, says his animals only travel a few hours to get to Canpets.
“If they’re in the airport overnight [for example], then that is really unacceptable.”
When the SPCA letter was discussed during a council meeting, Coun. Mary-Ann Booth said she has concerns about the treatment of animals “especially those coming from puppy mills and factory breeders.”
Coun. Bill Soprovich advised not to jump to conclusions about Canpets based on the letter, adding the previous owners ran it for many years in Park Royal and “received commendation [for their store] in Burnaby for the best run pet store in the Lower Mainland.”
The BC SPCA letter is in “no way shape or form focusing on [Canpets],” he added.
“It could have an adverse effect, and I don’t want it to…”
Staff at Canpets spend time with new pet owners to make sure they understand their responsibilities, Go told council members.
“Our main concern is that the pets are going to a good home and are properly taken care of with the proper support of the new owners,” he said. “We make sure that we follow them up and occasionally make calls and find out if there are any needs or anything we can be supportive of…”
Other municipalities in Canada, including Richmond, have banned pet store from selling puppies. In 2010, Richmond was the first city in Canada to do so.
Although four stores in North Van currently sell live animals, such as birds, rodents and fish, none sell cats or dogs, according to the BC SCPA.