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Pet sale ban needs new system

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

What council thought at first to be a simple switch, will now require something a little different.

At its Oct. 23 meeting, council passed a motion to move forward with a bylaw change that would ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores, save for those obtained from Oshawa Animal Services and the Humane Society. However, staff are now claiming there is a better way to do it.

“It has been determined that the proposed ban is more effectively administered through a pet store licensing system with operating standards, including record keeping requirements that provide information on the source of cats and dogs available for adoption,” the staff recommendation reads.

For that reason, staff are looking to develop such a licensing system, with the goal of having it come back to committee for its first meeting in December.

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. The issue was recently brought back to forefront of council’s mind by local pet advocate Martin Field.

And while councillors had no issue with the change to the process moving forward, as the net impact of the change is perhaps only a bit more time, there were concerns about what it could mean for pet rescue groups. These groups have been somewhat of an outlier in the staff process as there has been discussion as to whether to allow them to source pets to local stores for adoption, something they have been doing for years.

At the urging of Councillor Rick Kerr, an addition to the motion ensured that the work of the rescue groups would not be impacted as the licensing system moves along.

“They would be prevented from doing their work and providing their animals to pet stores as they’ve done in the past,” Kerr said. “I think these groups do a valuable service and they work in concert with Oshawa Animal Services and the Durham Humane Society.”

Staff are looking to further address the issue of pet rescue groups in January of 2018.

“We haven’t drilled into the whole issue of rescue groups or defining what a rescue group is,” said Jerry Conlin, the city’s director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services.

The proposed system will come back to committee on Dec. 4.