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New Westminster to ban sale of cats and dogs

Retail stores in the city will no longer be able to sell a variety of pets

Royal City residents looking to add a Fido or Fifi to the family may have to venture elsewhere.

A majority of New Westminster city council supports amendments to the city's pet store bylaw that would ban the sale of cats and dogs in retail stores.

A staff report states that the bylaw changes are intended to help address regional concerns about the growing number of dogs and cats in shelters and animals being raised by unqualified breeders.

Currently rabbits, hares and pikas are prohibited from being sold in pet stores in New Westminster. Once the bylaw is amended, cats and dogs would be added to the list of animals than can't be sold in New Westminster.

Kathy Powelson, founder of the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, appeared before city council in September to ask the city to amend its pet store bylaw to prohibit the sale of cats and dogs in retail stores, which would stop the needless suffering of these animals as many live in horrible conditions.

Cheryl Rogers, president of the Pacific Volunteer Education and Assistance Team for Animals Society, subsequently appeared before council to ask the city to ban the sale of animals in pet stores, stating that most animals in pet stores come from poor conditions.

Rogers appeared before city council Monday night and urged the city to ban the sale of all animals in pet stores, rather than doing so on a species specific basis.

Coun. Lorrie Williams said the bylaw can be amended in the future if it's deemed necessary.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said he has some difficulty banning sales of dogs and cats in pet stores as its part of our culture.

Coun. Jaimie McEvoy said he believes the city has to "think carefully" about banning things that are legal. He said he'd like more evidence that dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, where they live in poor conditions.

In a five-to-two vote, council approved three readings of amendments to the animal control bylaw.

The city will notify the public about the bylaw amendment and invite residents to submit written comments within two weeks. The comments will be given to council before it gives final adoption to the bylaw.

A staff report stated that two of the three pet stores located in New Westminster do not sell any live animals. A third acts as an agent to adopt out rescued and abandoned cats.

According to staff, the amendments would prohibit the sale of cat and dogs in retail stores, with the exception of stores acting as an agent for recognized animal rescue societies or shelter organizations, such as the SPCA or the New Westminster Animal Shelter.

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