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Burnaby's new bylaw requiring sterilization of cats for sale, is it enough?

Burnaby's new bylaw, will it be enough to keep this cutie off the streets?
Burnaby's new bylaw, will it be enough to keep this cutie off the streets?
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Burnaby’s city council recently amended a bylaw that required pet stores to sterilize rabbits before sale, to now include cats. Pet advocate, Kathy Powelson, says its simply not enough however. Powelson, exectuive director for Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, hopes that the change in the bylaw will help with the feral cat population that the city is currently facing.

"What it doesn't do is it doesn't address the acquisition of these cats - our argument was twofold...but also these cats are coming from inhumane conditions, as well. They're coming from breeding mills, irresponsible backyard breeders, so requiring sterilization before sale doesn't address that at all."

Pet stores failing to sterilize the animal or provide vouchers to cover the cost of sterilization will face a $500 fine. Powelson is hoping that it won’t be viable for some stores to foot the cost of the procedure, and that they will be unwilling to pass that onto consumers through increasing the price of cats.

"Business owners would be responsible for funding the program and the voucher provided to the consumer would be required to cover 100 per cent of the procedure costs," said Denise Jorgenson, director of finance. "Enforcement would be accomplished by random inspections conducted by the B.C. SPCA."

However, the bill is not addressing where the cats are coming from, nor does it address the conditions the animals are kept at the store. There have been some suggestion to only sell provincial bred and raised cats; however, as Powelson points out animal mills are everywhere, including the backyards of BC citizens.

The idea of having registered BC breeders sell their animals through the pet stores, rather than unknown breeders, or breeders from across the border, while good on paper is virtually impossible in practice. The Canadian Kennel Club, for example, forbids any breeders to sell their puppies through pet stores as it encourages breeders to be responsible for the animal for life, rather than just for the time that the animal may spend with the breeder.