City council wants more information before deciding whether to proceed with a ban on dog and cat sales at pet stores.
The issue was debated Monday at a special council meeting at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Councillors first voted against staff’s recommendation to regulate the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail stores, then began debating an outright ban before determining they didn’t have enough information to make their decision.
“The SPCA does have rules in place and there [are] laws in place to deal with the issue if there is a problem with the sale of pets…” said Coun. Sheryl Armstrong. “I would support regulation, but I’m concerned about it being over-regulated. I would not support a ban.”
Coun. Diane Brennan said she does not think an outright ban would be supported by the public.
“I think people do want to protect animals, but I also think they don’t want to put businesses out of business,” she said.
Coun. Gord Fuller said banning dog, cat and rabbit sales at pet stores would drive customers to internet sellers.
“I can’t support the outright ban on the sales of these, because the sales would be taken up by other people we have less control [over],” Fuller said.
Coun. Ian Thorpe said he might consider banning retail sales of dogs and cats, but would like more information about the experience of other municipalities that have implemented a ban.
“If we’re going to contemplate debating a ban on the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits, I would like to see this go back to staff to come to us with a more fulsome report,” he said.
Barry Bender, owner of Paws N Jaws pet store, made a presentation prior to council’s discussion.
“We hope that the support of our many customers – our petition gathered almost 900 names in a few short weeks – have shown that the stigma that all pet stores purchase from puppy mills does not apply to us,” he said.
The motion to regulate retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits failed with councillors Fuller, Jim Kipp, Bill Bestwick, Jerry Hong and Bill Yoachim opposed.
The motion to refer the issue back to staff passed with only Bestwick opposed.