It's time to take another step to care for those who can't care for themselves...

Let's make the move to ensure any future retail pet stores that offer cats, dogs and rabbits do so through our humane society adoption program instead of offering animals from breeders. 

Several years ago as the Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee I first came across the issue of the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in Ottawa pet stores.

There was a growing debate about enacting a ban on selling these animals unless they were sold in an adoption model in partnership with the Ottawa Humane Society. The goal was to reduce the likelihood that irresponsible breeders would find a way to sell mistreated animals to stores who in turn would sell them to customers.

I heard from people and groups on both sides of the argument. Would a ban include people who sold animals but who were not located in retail locations? What about residents in our rural community who breed and kennel animals? Many puppy mill animals are purchased online and handed off in parking lots for cash - banning sales in stores that knew their breeders treated animals well would not stop that underground market, it would only hurt the stores.

Last week in my ward the pet store in the Carlingwood mall closed its doors. With that, there are only 3 retail locations left in Ottawa that sell cats, dogs and rabbits outright, not through the Humane Society adoption program.

I believe it's now time to enact a retail ban that would prevent any future stores from retailing cats, dogs and rabbits unless they came from our Humane Society.

There are still factors to be looked at, just some of which I mentioned above. I do not believe responsible Ottawa breeders should loose the opportunity to do business. I also believe that the origin of other pet store animals should be looked at to ensure they have been responsibly treated through their entire chain of life - not just within the stores.

This is not a position that singles out our local store owners.

Our Ottawa By Law Service does a good job of working with all local store owners to ensure the animals in their care are treated well. The stores in Ottawa do well at keeping their commitment to care properly for their animals. Today's stores have proven they care about where their animals came from and how they are treated.

The problem is that tomorrow's stores may not have that same level of care; or, they may just get misled themselves into dealing with an unscrupulous dealer. I think we have an opportunity to prevent that possibility.

This is about a starting point.

A place where as a community we say that for the pieces of a system over which we do have control - we will ensure that there is no chance a mistreated animal can be sold in a store.

As committee and council debate this later this year there will be a staff report that outlines a number of suggestions and policy choices. I look forward to reading it, learning more and seeing what opportunities we have.

But I know where I want to start.

The time has arrived in my mind to take the steps we can take. If even one animal is spared from being bred and born into a mistreated life, then it is worth it. After all, what defines us is how we treat that which we don't have to treat well. I think we have an obligation to define ourselves as a community that cares.


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