Proposed changes to the District of Maple Ridge’s animal control bylaw could spell the end of live pet sales for new pet stores.
The ban has been suggested by district bylaw staff to help control animal populations and to improve the living conditions of the animals.
“It’s all for the benefit of the public and the pets themselves,” said Maple Ridge bylaws director Liz Holitzki.
The live pet sale ban would apply to all pets, other than reptiles and fish. However, existing pet stores wouldn’t be subject to the ban.
Holitzki is also recommending mandatory sterilization for all rabbits sold in Maple Ridge pet stores.
“Rabbits are a huge issue, especially in other municipalities where rabbit populations have got out of control,” she said.
The bylaw change was proposed to council this week and will be voted on this September, and also singles out pit bulls as “aggressive” and would charge their owners a licensing fee four times that of other breeds.
The fee would apply to pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, or a cross of any of the breeds.
Pit bull owners would be required to pay a $200 “aggressive dog” licensing fee annually, and require their dog to be muzzled when off the owner’s property. Pit bulls would also be subject to higher impound fees.
Holitzki said a number of Lower Mainland municipalities have already enacted similar bylaws, banning live pets sales in pet stores.
Gary Penno, co-owner of Mr. Pets in Maple Ridge, said the pets at his store are kept in humane conditions.
“We have state-of-the art housing facilities in all our stores which utilize stainless steel, glass and ABS plastics, which make cleaning easier and sanitary… [and] ensure the pets have the correct bedding and access to clean water at all times,” said Penno.
“We want to adopt out pets that actually make good pets so our customers and pets are both happy.”
Banning live pet sales will do little to curb the pet population, he said.
“California, for example, sells more ferret products than any other state, yet it is illegal to sell ferrets in California,” he said.
While his store sells kittens, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, and birds, they are sourced from local breeders.
“We sell only small pets and kittens from local customers, we do not and never will sell puppies or dogs,” he said. “I understand that the city is trying to make their city a better place and I hope they gather all the information before they make a rash decision.”
Holitzki said the District would consult with pet store owners before introducing any changes to the animal control bylaw, but noted the legislation is supported by the B.C. SPCA.