City hall considering licencing pet stores in London

London City Hall is considering bylaw changes that would require pet stores to only sell dogs and cats supplied from shelters, not breeders.

In a report presented to the community and protective services committee last week, staff proposed licencing pet stores to ensure canines and felines are not sold from puppy mills.

Vicky Van Linden, who co-founded the local volunteer group Friends of Captive Animals, spoke out during the meeting about why she feels licencing pet stores would be a win-win for animal advocates and city hall.

“When an animal that the store sold becomes homeless or in need, it falls on the shoulders of rescue groups and city-funded services to respond,” she said. “So by reducing opportunities to impulse purchase animals in stores, you can reduce demand on city-funded services.”

She believes businesses will be able to adapt to the new regulations.

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“Several businesses already thrive in London and across Canada selling food and supplies for pets. Some chain stores and privately owned businesses do not sell any living creatures of any kind, yet they prosper.”

Staff have proposed an annual licence fee of $179 for pet shops, which would have to maintain a record of animals obtained and sold.

READ MORE: How you can help stray animals: national adoption weekend

The regulations would permit the sale of animals from London Animal Care Centre, the London Humane Society, and city approved rescue groups. Staff suggested that “in many local pet stores, the sale/adoption of animals is currently occurring at weekend adoption events administered by local rescue groups.”

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Jonathan Reid, a manager at Pet Paradise, said they’ve already decreased the number of purchases of cats and dogs through educating owners upon adoption.

“This can very easily be seen by the sheer numbers that have dropped in our sales in accordance with live animals and dogs,” he said. “So in comparing 2016 to 2013, cat sales went down by 50 per cent, and dog sales went down by 75 per cent. That’s purely from educating the public with each sale that we make. So it’s been proven once again that education works, rather than banning things which only makes it go more underground, unregulated, with no accountability, and this goes for all animals.”

He believes these regulations will do more harm than good.

“We have no problem with record keeping, licensing, or regulation as long as it is reasonable, but what is being proposed is not.”

Reid also feels the real problem is online sales of dogs and cats through sites like Kijiji, which the bylaw would not govern.

London enacted a no-kill, open-shelter strategy in 2013 which mandates that shelter animals are not killed, and instead put up for adoption or sent to other shelters.

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