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Newmarket ban on pet stores sales will boost puppy mills: owner

Move praised by animal rights activists
June 24, 2020
Lisa Queen

Newmarket councillors are poised to ban pet stores selling cats and dogs other than those sourced from shelters and rescue centres.

While the move is being praised by animal rights activists, a pet store owner is worried the ban will actually cause many customers to resort to buying their pets from online puppy mills.

“It (the proposed bylaw) is s exactly doing the opposite of what it was intended to do,” said Keith Burgess, the owner of Pet Paradise in the 404 Town Centre at Davis Drive and Leslie Street for almost 30 years.

On June 15, councillors agreed at a committee meeting that pet stores won’t be able to sell cats and dogs from breeders but will be able to adopt them out for a fee if they are from reputable shelters and rescues.

Council is scheduled to make final decision on the proposed bylaw at its June 29 meeting. While councillors voted unanimously for the proposed bylaw at the committee meeting, some expressed reservations with the ban so concerns could be raised at the council meeting.

The ban is a move many municipalities are embracing as animal advocates decry pet stores selling cats and dogs from “cruelty-based” large-scale breeders.

Aurora resident and animal rights activist Rita Goverde applauded Newmarket councillors for taking a stand against the “atrocities” of breeding animals for profit.

But while councillors’ hearts may be in the right place, Burgess said many people don’t want a dog from a shelter and could turn to unknown or disreputable sources to get a puppy.

“People who don’t want shelter dogs or OSPCA dogs don’t want to go to those places to begin with. They want to go somewhere else. They’re going to end up on the internet and that’s where you have a problem,” he said.

“I understand what they (councillors) are doing, I understand the reasons for them doing it, the idea is right ┬áIt’s an impossible situation for them because they are being pushed by the other wing, the radical animal rights groups.”

Council is reluctant to let pet stores source cats and dogs from breeders because they have no authority over those outside of town but they are painting all pet stores with the same brush, Burgess said.

“There are still people out here that are trying to do a good job,” he said, adding he only buys from breeders he knows and trusts and has records on puppies going back 20 years.

Some dogs from shelters and rescues could have behavioural problems or come from puppy mill raids so Burgess questioned the rationale of pet stores adopting dogs with unknown histories to the public.

Meanwhile, councillors are also expected to approve rules governing the welfare of animals, such as ensuring they have access to food and water and aren’t kept tethered for hours or on short leashes.

Rather than enforcing a list of animals prohibited to be kept as pets, the town would have a list of permitted pets, as Aurora and some other municipalities have, which, ironically, would allow fewer species of animals to be kept as pets.