CALGARY – An ongoing protest against a Calgary pet store continued Sunday.
Protesters have been gathering regularly at The Top Dog pet store in northeast Calgary since it opened just over a year ago.
The demonstrators say they are concerned that the store’s dogs may be coming from puppy mills.
“We are here because this is the one and only pet store left in Calgary selling puppies,” said Wanda Terry, a protester.
Robert Church, the owner of The Top Dog store, said their local breeders are inspected by veterinarians on a regular basis and by a canine behaviour expert.
Church said he is taking a stand against puppy mills by supporting principled dog providers.
“We are taking a stand against puppy mills and substandard breeders by supporting quality providers who care for their animals in a humane and ethical fashion. All animals deserve to be treated with kindness and respect and we will not be involved with or tolerate people who are unethical in their animal care or homing practices. We advocate legislation that would provide inspections and certifications of compliance for all pet rescues, all breeders, and all pet stores,” said Church in a statement.
Church said the protesters have conducted a campaign of harassment against The Top Dog store since it opened.
Animal activists said that isn’t the case.
“We are not trying to shut his business. What we would like to see him do, is be free to sell his pet supplies and dog food. There are other major pet stores in Calgary that do that and are financially fine. They’ve been in business for years. Why do you have to sell live puppies in your store”? said Terry.
The animal rights activists said the city doesn’t need more puppies when there are so many unwanted dogs available for adoption.
“We feel that with the overpopulation problem that we already have and rescues and the Humane Society filling at the seams that we shouldn’t be contributing to actually bringing more unwanted dogs into the world as far as commercial breeding facilities go,” said Tracy Mahdi, a protester.
The Calgary activists said they want the city council to join Toronto in banning stores that sell puppies.
“Right now, Canada has about ten other major cities that have banned the retail selling of pets and their stores and we would like to see Calgary do the same,” said Terry.
The owner of the pet store said that his business believes everyone has the right to choose the animal that is best suited to their home and lifestyle.
“That is why we work hard to ensure our puppies are happy, healthy, and ethically sourced, so that our guests can be confident in choosing a Top Dog puppy,” stated Church. “Potential owners will be asked to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire and personally guarantee to have their new pet spayed or neutered in order for a puppy to be placed with them.”
Church said he is frustrated by how protesters have decided to express themselves.
“Police have been called several times because of the activists failure to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. The animal activists refuse to meet or discuss their concerns in person in spite of several invitations to do so,” he said.