Mississauga bans pet-store sales of privately bred cats and dogs
Tikki and owner at Mississauga City HallSAN GREWAL/TORONTO STAR Kate Steen plays with her French bulldog, Tikki, outside Mississauga City Hall on Wednesday. She has has spent $40,000 in medical bills on the dog, which she bought unwittingly at a mall pet store.
She was born in a puppy mill, shipped to a shopping mall pet store in Mississauga and sold to Kate Steen, who was told Tikki was bred in Germany and in perfect health.
“I didn’t even know about puppy mills,” Steen says.
Puppy and kitten mills are rampant across North America, places where unregulated owners breed animals in deplorable conditions with no medical supervision before charging large sums for animals that are often traumatized and sick.
The Humane Society and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers such breeding mills one of the primary causes of the thousands of unwanted cats and dogs that are killed each year in Canada.
Steen was one of almost a dozen delegates who convinced Mississauga City Council Wednesday to introduce a bylaw that, once in effect, will ban the sale of all privately bred cats and dogs in pet stores.
The bylaw passed the first vote and will probably get final approval in council next week, when it will come into effect.
“It’s cruelty at its worst,” Councillor Pat Saito, who introduced the bylaw, said of the mills. “We aren’t going to make a big dent just in Mississauga, but it’s doing our part globally.”
Saito told the Star that pet stores often don’t realize they’re bringing in cats and dogs from unregulated mills, because false paperwork claiming a clean bill of health is given to them by sellers, who often state dogs are purebreeds when they are not.
“The Canadian Kennel Club, the largest organization in the country, does not allow its members to sell to pet stores.”
The bylaw will make Mississauga the third city in Canada to ban such sales, after Richmond, B.C. and Toronto. Stores in the city will now have to acquire any dogs and cats under adoption programs through the Humane Society or other animal rescue groups, with proper documentation.
Pet store owners at Wednesday’s meeting warned that the bylaw would force them out of business. They said all levels of government should go after the animal mills, not just store owners; that they only buy from reputable breeders; and that most mill animals are sold online, not at stores. No statistics are available to verify that, city staff said.
Steen says she’s one of thousands of owners who bought a pet thinking it was properly reared, only to learn later that Tikki was inbred in a puppy mill and suffering a raft of medical problems as a result. “They would have had to put her down if I didn’t buy her.”
Most owners wouldn’t have spent $50,000 to keep her alive. After her experience, Steen is now active in the movement against animal mills. “I was ignorant to puppy mills, now I’m out fighting them.”