Nearly 50 pet stores and animal suppliers are taking the City of Montreal to court over a new bylaw that forces pet stores to get their dogs, cats and rabbits from shelters.

They say there are not enough animals available and the city may be forcing them out of business.

"We're trying to reduce the amount of animals in shelters and the second thing is, just for safety. We know the origins not so clearly when it's coming from a pet store, but when it's coming from a shelter, they've been taken care of," said city councillor Craig Sauve earlier this month. "We know the condition of the animal."

Some stores, like Nature Pet Centre, have already been getting animals from shelters for years for years, but they're finding there aren't enough animals available, explained lawyer Yves Pepin.

"Theyr'e getting all their dogs and cats from shelters and they have to go to Cote-Nord, Abitibi-Temiscamingue, Sherbrooke, just to be able to have dogs and cats for seven pet stores. If you go right now to one of the biggest shelters in Montreal, la Berger Blanc, they don't have any. Zero. Nothing. Nada. No dogs no cat, to give to adoption," he said.

At the SPCA, there are currently 15 dogs available for adoption and none are suitable for young children.

Pepin said that forces people to go online, where puppy mills operate with impunity.

"If you look at it, basically what it's going to do is we won't sell any dogs and cats in pet stores. It's going to stop. Everything is going to go on internet," he said.

There are nearly 50 pet stores and animal suppliers behind the lawsuit – and they're not just from Montreal. Pepin said there's a growing concern that this might inspire other cities to adopt a similar bylaw and put other pet stores out of business. 

The first court appearance is scheduled for July 31.