Blog & Editorial

Disinformation in the name of questionable pet stores



Enough is enough! My articles are usually filled with humour, but exceptionally, this article will be a bit spicier. I cannot remain silent in the face of a recent lawsuit: pet shops seek to invalidate a new bylaw of the City of Montreal.


The municipal council has adopted regulation on the supervision of domestic animals. The latter provides, among other measures, that starting July 1rst 2019, Montreal pet stores will no longer be allowed to sell cats, dogs or other pets unless they come from a shelter. Although it does not incorporate educational measures, I welcome this bylaw! It helps shelters which euthanize thousands of animals each year due to lack of space and puts a stop to puppy and kitten mills, which mainly sell to pet shops.


Now, a lawyer representing a dozen pet stores is claiming that this bylaw would be ‘illegal’ and justifies his claims with arguments that are nothing but misinformation. This is the main reason for my intervention in the debate. The lawyer claims that, contrary to belief, pet store supply is controlled and that the supplying breeders are responsible. This is where I get angry. WE ARE RECOGNIZED BY OTHER COUNTRIES AS ONE OF THE WORST PLACES IN THE WORLD FOR PUPPY AND KITTEN MILLS. The standards are not severe enough or poorly regulated, due to lack of resources. The new MAPAQ regulations have improved the situation, but there is still a long way to go in terms of animal welfare.


Is it true that some pet stores do the right thing when it comes to selling animals? Of course, I know some. Is it the majority? I doubt it, but even if it were, the truth is that there are pet stores who don’t do things properly, which results in animal suffering and possible behavioural issues after adoption. These simple arguments alone justify this bylaw. Some will say ‘Sure, but good pet stores will pay for a minority of bad ones.’ Yup! That’s life! All laws are made on the same principle: to impose common limits to control a minority of people. In this case, as it is about protecting living beings, the bylaw is fully justifiable.


To the pet shops taking part of this lawsuit, I ask: what difference will it make for you to supply from shelters? You may be making a little less profit, but how many times have I heard you say that you have, first and foremost, animal welfare at heart and that your goal is not purely lucrative? Therefore, you should not have any issues complying with the bylaw, right? Sure, you may have fewer purebred cats to sell. But if breeders are selling their animals to a pet store, it’s usually because they can’t sell them by themselves due to a bad reputation or health problems in their animals. Otherwise, logically, they would sell them by themselves to make more profit, right? These unscrupulous breeders are puppy and kitten mills.


When it comes to cats, all the breeders that I know, even those who could benefit from improving their practices, would never stand to see their kittens in a pet store cage. They all make sure that each kitten is placed in a good home. So, if a breeder sells purebred cats to a pet store, there is a problem with that breeder. If not, why do most breeders have a waiting list of up to two years? Breeders who fail to rehome all their cats produce too many. Their cats are declined by customers for various reasons. In the end, they are bad breeders. Bigger or more numerous litters can happen, but if it happens regularly, there is obvious overproduction. Don’t forget that breeders have full and complete control over production. They decide when the cats mate. They decide to overbreed. Please, don’t use the argument of the breeder ‘who wants to take advantage of the pet store to advertise the breed’. Cats are not a rare diamond or high-end perfume that we want to discover through a big Feline Walmart. In fact, if it were the case, Feline Walmart would not want it, because supply exceeds demand. There is feline overpopulation. In an oversupplied market, surplus and substandard product end up at the Dollar Store. I don’t have anything against this type of trade, but in this analogy, it’s as if your Dollar Store was selling diamond rings, high-end perfume and designer clothes… Wouldn’t you wonder about the origin of such products?


This analogy is not perfect, please don’t dwell on demolishing it; all I aim to do here is to vulgarize the situation in order to make it understandable. It’s about living things. It is important to inform people and counter misinformation. So please, stay respectful in tour comments and target instead these pet stores, that will never publish their names… Why is that?


Daniel Filion

President, Cat Educator

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