Surrey city council approved a ban on the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in retail pet stores Monday evening.
The decision amends the city’s business license bylaw to forbid privately-owned pet stores from displaying or selling the animals, which are now only allowed to be sold by city-approved animal shelters such as the BC SPCA.
The amendment goes into effect in June, and also imposes a $500 fine on any business owner caught selling a dog, cat or rabbit.
Paws for Hope, which has been pushing for the ban since 2011 and gave a presentation on the issue to council last September, applauded the decision in a statement Monday.
“We are so encouraged to see more cities in B.C. recognize that this inhumane business practice should end,” executive director Kathy Powelson said in the release.
“The ban in Surrey is a victory for the community, a victory for the animal welfare community and most of all, a victory for all of the animals who suffer the most,” she added.
A city staff report on the issue notes that while none of the 22 listed retail pet stores in Surrey currently sell dogs or cats, many of them do sell rabbits.
The report mentions an increasing number of rabbits have been found in abandoned areas in Surrey, eventually putting a strain on animal shelters.
Over 70 rabbits ended up in the Surrey Animal Resource Centre last year, with only three of them eventually being reunited with their original owners. There are currently 30 rabbits at the shelter.
Surrey’s ban follows similar decisions in New Westminster, Delta and Richmond.
Vancouver imposed its own ban in December, while Paws for Hope says Victoria is now considering a similar measure.