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Delays in implementing ban on cat and dog sales frustrating advocates

It has been nearly four years since the city first considered a ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The amount of time it’s taking for the City of Oshawa to move ahead with implementing a bylaw that would put critical protections in place for animals has started to frustrate local pet activists.

It’s been nearly four years since the idea of banning the sale of cats and dogs in local pet stores, save for those sourced from municipal shelters or the Humane Society, was brought to the city’s attention. However, despite public consultation and several reports, no ban has yet been implemented, meaning the potential for pet stores to sell animals from unknown sources and puppy mills still exists.

“By now, I hope you will understand how we are losing faith with the overall process that has been subjected to so many delays,” Martin Field, a local animal advocate told councillors during the most recent meeting of the Corporate Services committee. “There’s no end in sight.”

Following public consultation in 2015, the next step for staff was to hold further consultations with pet rescue groups to gauge the feasilbility of them being allowed to adopt pets from stores along with the municipal shelters and Humane Society. However, to date, there has been little movement toward implementing any changes.

For that reason, Field called on the city to temporarily put aside the inclusion of the rescue groups until further consultation could be done, and to put a ban in place right now, noting that earlier this year he was told no action would be taken prior to the corporate services department handling the current work on the Trap Neuter Return management program for feral cats.

For councillors, it seemed an easy switch, with a few words added the bylaw. However, they were informed by commissioner Bev Hendry that there would be a considerable amount of work involved in implementing such a ban.

“It’s not a simple amendment, there is significant work that goes with that to set those standards,” she said. “It’s not just a turn key sort of process.”

And while it was noted by members of staff from animal services that some of the groundwork was already in place, Jerry Conlin, the director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services noted that steps would be needed to create a class of licensing that would applicable to these pet shops, with different criteria to measure where they were sourcing their animals from.

“We don’t have any of that in place,” he said.

With that said, the staff once again noted that if council were to move ahead with the ban, other work would be pushed to the back burner.

“No matter what the work is (for this), something will have to give,” Hendry said. “We aren’t prepared to tell you today exactly what that work would be.”

This has been an ongoing theme in the city’s Corporate Services department, particularly with municipal law enforcement, with a report released late in 2016 that noted due to staffing levels and increased workload the “increasing pressures has propelled MLE to acknowledge its inability to continue to provide highly effective and timely service.”

However, Councillor Amy McQuaid-England challenged the notion, suggesting much of the work to put a ban in place was already completed.

“I don’t think this would be any extra work,” she said. “We’re already doing the groundwork for this.”

The vote to move forward with a ban carried through committee and will go for final approval at council before the end of 2017.