The City of Ottawa is the latest municipality to consider banning the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet shops. Instead, shops would be allowed to adopt out animals from humane societies, shelters, and rescues. Ottawa is in good company: Toronto, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond, and many other Canadian and U.S. municipalities have already prohibited retail sales of cats, dogs, and rabbits in a bid to shut down commercial puppy and kitten mills, and help shelter animals find loving homes.
Puppy and kitten mills subject animals to horrific abuse to satisfy the commercial demand for pets. Animals are bred until their bodies give out, often kept in squalid conditions with serious injuries and diseases. In two recent high-profile puppy mill busts in B.C., investigators found dogs suffering from severely matted fur, missing eyes, broken limbs, and open sores.
To make matters worse, commercial pet breeders in Ontario are unlicensed and are rarely inspected by law enforcement officials. They typically operate in total secrecy, hiding animal abuse behind closed doors with their victims unable to ask for help.
One of the best ways to shut down abusive commercial breeders is to shut down the market for purchased animals. Instead of buying new companion animals at the pet shop, people will be encouraged to adopt animals cared for by shelters and rescues, which are overflowing with wonderful animals awaiting adoption into a loving home. Increasing adoption rates saves countless animals from euthanasia, and encourages the public to think of animals as life-long companions instead of consumer items.
Selling companion animals at stores frequently results in impulse purchases which may end up disappointing for both the human and the animal, particularly when an animal ends up being more work or costing more money than expected. Shelters face further strain when pets are given up soon after being purchased. Shelters and rescues have more robust adoption procedures, ensuring families are matched up with the right companion animal.
Animal Justice submitted formal comments to the City of Ottawa in support of banning the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in pet stores. Animal Justice is also proposing that Ottawa consider banning sales of other animals like fishes, reptiles, and birds who are also available in shelters, and vulnerable to abusive commercial breeders.