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SPCA shelter director Tiffiny Koback wants Saskatoon city council to ban pet stores from selling pet mill animals. CBC

The Saskatoon SPCA is asking city council to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats that come from pet mills. Instead, the shelter wants animals sold at pet stores to be supplied by local shelters.

"If there's a source for [pet mills] to push their product then certainly they're going to continue the activity," said shelter director Tiffiny Koback

Pet mills are commercial breeding operations that favour profits over animal welfare and raise dogs and cats for sale in substandard conditions.

If Saskatoon passes the law it would follow in the footsteps of cities like Toronto, which voted in May to restrict pet shops to selling dogs and cats acquired only from shelters, humane societies and certified breeders. Last year, Richmond, B.C., banned the sale of puppies in pet stores altogether.

Saskatoon councillor Mairin Loewen supports the SPCA's idea.

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Koback says stores should help adopt out animals, like this one, that come from local shelters. CBC

"We already have many animals in Saskatoon that don't have homes, that are in shelters, in rescue programs," she said. "And personally I'd like to see the priority being finding homes for those animals."

Some pet stores are already phasing out the sale of puppies and kittens. PetSmart has always donated space to local animal rescue groups, while Petland Canada announced in September that it was moving away from selling larger animals. It plans to work with animal rescue groups and shelters to hold adoption events or use store space to feature pets to adopt out.

However, the chain did not make the move for ethical reasons. In a statement released to the media, chief operating officer Robert Brissette said it was, in part, because of a decline in sales due to people shopping online.

The internet has become a large venue for pet mill breeders to sell their animals. Koback expects that to continue, but says banning pet mill sales in stores would be a step in the right direction.