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Montreal pet store owners lose bid to suspend rules forcing them to sell animals from shelters

A cat is shown at a pet store in Montreal, Thursday, August 8, 2019. Pet store owners contesting a Montreal bylaw that forbids the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits that aren't sourced from a shelter or veterinarian have been denied a temporary suspension of those rules in a ruling this week. Quebec Superior Court rejected the request brought by 25 store owners to have the provisions temporarily stayed while a legal case brought by the group is argued on its merits.
A cat is shown at a pet store in Montreal, Thursday, August 8, 2019. Pet store owners contesting a Montreal bylaw that forbids the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits that aren't sourced from a shelter or veterinarian have been denied a temporary suspension of those rules in a ruling this week. Quebec Superior Court rejected the request brought by 25 store owners to have the provisions temporarily stayed while a legal case brought by the group is argued on its merits. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A Quebec judge has rejected an application by Montreal pet store owners for the suspension of a new city bylaw that bans the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits that don’t come from shelters or veterinary clinics.

In a decision released Wednesday, Superior Court Justice Johanne Mainville denied the request by 25 store owners to have the rules temporarily stayed while a legal case brought by the group is argued on its merits.

READ MORE: Montreal moves to ban calèches, tightens animal welfare laws

The bylaw went into effect in July and says pet stores are only allowed to sell animals from refuges and veterinary clinics. Montreal’s new rules were part of a wide-ranging municipal pet bylaw passed in August 2018.

Yves Pépin, lawyer for the applicants, says he’s disappointed with the ruling. But he says the judge who heard the request noted the broader issues argued in the case merited a full hearing.

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Pépin says the new rules give a monopoly to animal shelters, create a black market for certain kinds of pets and punish store owners.

The SPCA says in a statement it welcomes the ruling. The animal-rights group adds it is confident the measure is valid, noting other North American cities, including Toronto and Chicago, have similar laws.