City's animal welfare bylaw polarizes breeders, pet store owners
Under the City of Montreal’s new animal control bylaw, pet stores will only be allowed to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits that come from shelters.
And both retailers and breeders are concerned – even though the new regulations come into effect July 2019.
Yves Pepin is a lawyer representing several “animal expert” shops, and he believes the city is in the wrong.
One of the new rules in the bylaw, Pepin said, is “precisely illegal” – the one that restricts the kinds of animals sold through pet stores.
According to the province’s Animal Welfare and Safety Act, pet shops can sell cats and dogs with a permit, including animals that come from a breeder.
“The kind of dog and cat that you find in a pet shop is not the kind you find in a shelter,” Pepin explained. “They could be around $1500 to $2000 dollars, and you won’t find a purebred in a shelter.”
Although puppy and kitten mills still exist in Quebec, Pepin said pet stores are inspected and regulated, and that his clients work with reputable breeders.
“The people I represent are dealing with people that are well-renowned, actually, when you go online – that’s where you find people that manufacture dogs and cats,” he added.
But Maggie Shuter, a shelter operator, disagrees with this perspective.
“A really good breeder would never sell through retail,” she said. “They want to know who the owner is [and] they want to meet the person.”
Shuter runs Chatopia, a shelter for purebred cats with behavior problems.
She says she hopes the new rule with help eliminate “backyard breeders,” or the people she says breed animals irresponsibly.
“We’ve taken in 60 Himalayans at a time; we took in 45 Savannahs, we’ve taken in Persians – all from backyard breeders because they got overrun, they couldn’t sell enough,” Shuter explained.
Pet stores like Nature said they began selling animals from shelters four years ago. But Pepin’s clients aren’t interested in that alternative, he said.
“We’re planning to meet with other pet shops to tell them about their rights, and if the bylaw is being adopted by the city, we’ll contest that in court – that’s for sure,” Pepin said.
City officials did not respond to CTV Montreal’s request for comment.
The new bylaw, however, is expected to pass when city councilors vote on it Monday night.