New rule forcing Montreal pet stores to get their animals from shelters garners mixed reviews

Starting July 1, 2019, pet stores in Montreal will no longer be able to sell cats, dogs and rabbits that come from breeders — instead, they will need to get their animals from shelters.

New animal control bylaw means pet stores can't sell dogs, cats and rabbits that come from breeders

This Highland Lynx is the only type of cat that Animal Expert, a pet store in the Gay Village, gets from a breeder. The store won't be able to sell it after July 1, 2019, under the city's new rules. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

If you're hoping to buy a rare Highland Lynx cat from your nearby pet store, you'll have to do it soon.

Starting July 1, 2019, pet stores in Montreal will no longer be able to sell cats, dogs and rabbits that come from breeders. Instead, they will need to get those animals from shelters.

That's one of the changes included in the Plante administration's new animal control bylaw, announced on Thursday.

The new rule is being applauded by many, but it does have some opposition — primarily from pet stores.

'Double the work'

The Animal Expert pet store in the Gay Village doesn't sell dogs, and the cats it does sell are mostly rescued from the neighbourhood. 

The only cat they get from a breeder is the Highland Lynx, and that's because they know the breeder personally, said Maxim Tremblay, who has worked at the store for more than 10 years.

He said some breeders don't actually care about the welfare of the animals and are in it for the profit.

While he sees the benefit of the rule change, he says he fears the regulation will mean additional work.

Animal Expert already serves as an "unofficial" shelter for stray cats in the neighbourhood, helping them find homes.

However under the new regulations, the store would have to turn away local residents trying to drop off stray animals, and direct them toward a shelter instead, Tremblay said.

After that, the shelter "is going to send us back the cat," he said. 

"It's going to be double the work for the same cat."

Maxim Tremblay works at Animal Expert in the Gay Village. He says there are both good and bad sides to the new regulations. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

'Backyard breeders' a big problem

Despite this potential new hurdle, the rule change is being applauded by many who hope it will solve a problem of unscrupulous breeders.

Maggie Shuter is the founder of Chatopia, a shelter that takes in purebred cats with behavioural problems, and are too nervous or aggressive for a regular shelter.

"A good breeder would never sell through a pet store. A good breeder would want to know where their animal is going," she said.

The regulation will make it more difficult for people known as "backyard breeders," Shuter said.

"These are not responsible breeders. They're not assuring that the animals are sterilized before they're placed. It's all for money, it's all for profit."

Maggie Shuter sits with Floyd, a rescue cat. Shuter owns Chatopia, a group that takes care of purebred cats that are abandoned by their owners. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.