Puppy mill ban on council's agenda

Laura Mellish, a friend of Son, supports the ban and encourages people to get a rescue dog, like she did.

By Charlotte Helston

A ban on the sale of animals from puppy mills will be considered and possibly decided on at Monday's council meeting. The ban was proposed by local animal rights activist Gina Son, who says the area is overrun with puppy mills. She says pet store puppies, kittens and rabbits almost certainly originate from factory farms that operate under the radar of authorities.

AJ's Pets & Things store owner Lisa Badach is part of a minority of local pet shops that continues to sell puppies from her shop. She says her animals are sourced from responsible breeders, and that while such a ban wouldn't affect her it would create a negative perception of her pet shop.

Son cites Humane Society International and the Canadian Kennel Club as organizations that oppose the sale of animals in pet shops. Susan Scobie, a registered breeder with the Canadian Kennel Club wrote a letter to Vernon council outlining her support of the ban. While Scobie acknowledges Son's points, she also raises some new ones, not just about where the puppy is coming from, but where it's going. She says responsible breeders will sell puppies with a breeding agreement which may include spaying and neutering. Pet stores, she says, do not ensure positive futures for the animals.

Son says rescue dogs are a wonderful way to go, but understands that not all are prepared for the experience. She encourages buyers to go directly to the breeder if they want a puppy, and to meet the dog's mother and father to see what condition they are in.

"Never, ever, buy a puppy from a store," she says.

In a memo to council, bylaw enforcement manager Clint Kanester suggests a ban is unnecessary for Vernon pet shops.

"From the presentation by Ms. Badach, discussions with the RDNO Dog Control contractor, and from further discussions with Ms. Badach, it is indicated that Pet Stores can assist in dealing with unwanted puppies, dogs, kittens and cats through the retail outlet that Pet Stores provide," Kanester said. "Pet Stores can become part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. It also came to light that almost all of the Pet Stores in Vernon already do not sell puppies/dogs and are already supporting the community in this manner."

In her presentation to council, Badach showed support for licensing and inspection of breeding operations. Kanester has his doubts about the significance of such a regulation.

"This initiative may be supportive of restricting puppy mill situations, but if implemented by the City of Vernon would be restricted to City of Vernon jurisdiction and would have limited impact on such operations," he said.

If the ban is shot down, Son hopes the city will assist with an educational initiative to raise awareness about puppy mills.

—Charlotte Helston

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