British Columbia

Surrey bans retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits

Surrey is the latest municipality in Metro Vancouver to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in stores.

More than 70 rabbits wound up in Surrey animal shelters last year

City of Surrey staff say banning the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits will reduce the number of abandoned animals. ((Amanda Bay / Firedog Communications))

Surrey is the latest municipality in Metro Vancouver to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, effective June 1.

None of the city's 22 licensed pet retailers now sell dogs or cats, but many do sell rabbits, according to a staff report.

"We have been working very hard to have municipalities across the province prohibit pet sales in retail stores," said Paws for Hope's Executive Director Kathy Powelson.

"We are so encouraged to see more cities in B.C. recognize that this inhumane business practice should end."

Several municipalities, including Vancouver, Delta and New Westminster, have introduced similar rules.

Too many rabbits

Surrey is one of many municipalities in the region where rabbit abandonment is becoming a problem.

Of the 70 rabbits that wound up at city shelters last year, only three were reunited with their owners.

"Banning the sale of rabbits for retail will help out with that," bylaw services manager Jas Rehal told CBC News last week.

"Caring for a rabbit is not easy."

Puppy mills

Bruce Hayne, who was the only councillor to vote against the ban at Monday night's meeting, says the new bylaw ignores a much larger issue.

"I want to state, unequivocally, that I care about animals but I really don't feel this corporate report gets at the core issue," he said.

"This is not going to, in my opinion, eradicate puppy mills."

Hayne says he would like to see new legislation introduced to crack down on puppy mills throughout the province.

The Canadian Federation of Human Societies describes puppy mills as crowded, dirty places where caged female dogs are continually pregnant and puppies are neglected with no positive human contact.