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Citizens plea with council for ban on pet sales in stores

City report indicates all out ban may not be best option

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It was an emotional night inside the Oshawa council chambers when the corporate services committee opened the door for public comments regarding the proposed ban on the reselling of cats and dogs in pet stores.

The public sentiment was clear: ban the practice.

However, a report from city staff indicated an all-out ban on the practice might not be the best option for accomplishing the original goals set out when council ordered this item looked into last year.

Those policy issues included addressing pet overpopulation, impulse buying of pets, commercial puppy mills and general animal care.

According to the city’s report, a ban would be the least effective option to addressing these four issues, while implementing a modified pet bylaw as well as a licensing system for pet stores and kennels would address all four to some degree.

Many members of the public supported the licensing system.

“I think licensing would put them under more of a microscope for best practices,” said Martin Field, an active animal advocate in the city.

Field added that while the licensing system could be a benefit, he urged council to implement the ban.

The same was said by Kasey Dunn, the founder of The Social Pet Work, an agency that promotes pet adoption over purchasing and has been an advocate for bans in other municipalities.

“If you’re considering licensing only, I would definitely advise against that,” Dunn said.

In working with other municipalities, Dunn says the licensing and inspection of the kennels and other sources of dogs and cats that end up in pet stores is impossible. Stores sometimes get their animals from sources far away, making inspections almost impossible.

Dunn also argued that a ban would further address the city’s goals, more so than the city report states.

She explained a ban would not only impact overpopulation (a noted issue in Oshawa), but stop impulse buying as the animals would no longer be available in pet stores.

The committee also heard emotional tales from pet owners who, after purchasing pets from stores (now closed) here in Oshawa, they traced their sources back to puppy mills.

While no known puppy mills are currently active in Oshawa, the Humane Society of Durham Region shut down two puppy mills and rescued approximately 110 dogs in a three-week span in 2012.

“You have the entire community of animal care…every one of them will be backing you if you do pass this ban,” said Cindy Bennett, volunteer and member of the Humane Society’s board.

Before the proposed ban was referred back to staff to mull over the information from the public for a subsequent report, Mayor John Henry requested that other municipalities who have similar bans be contacted to find what has and hasn’t been working.

Other municipalities that have banned the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores include: Toronto, Mississauga, Pickering, Vaughan, Kingston and Waterloo.

Councillor Doug Sanders was pleased with the turnout at the meeting and thanked the public for their participation in the process.

“You’re the voices for the animals,” he said. “Someone needs to speak for them.”