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Bylaw would ban puppy sales

After a three hour emotional debate, Richmond, BC, in a landmark decision,became the first Canadian municipality to draft a bylaw prohibiting the sale of dogs in stores.

After a three hour emotional debate, Richmond, BC, in a landmark decision,became the first Canadian municipality to draft a bylaw prohibiting the sale of dogs in stores. Councillor Ken Johnston initially proposed the amendment to address the issue of puppy mill abuse.

"By their actions Richmond councillors have become leaders in Canada in the fight against puppy mills and the cruelty that is condoned inside them," said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

So, what is apuppy mill?

A puppy mill breeds dogs for the sole purpose of maximum profit. The phrase comes from World War II, when the US Agriculture Department encouraged struggling farmers to raise puppies as an alternative "crop". Retail pet stores opened across the US in response to the growing supply of pups, paving the way for mass puppy production. Novice puppy farmers, however, often launched their ventures with little money and even less knowledge of canine husbandry. To this day, the folks, also known as puppy-millers, who run these disgusting businesses do not take proper care of their animals and do not take genetic defects or hereditary disorders into consideration. They just don't care. Their emphasis is on volume and profits above animal welfare and the health of the pet.

Most dogs are confined in tiny, cramped, wired cages on top of each other, living in unsanitary conditions, with little or no veterinary care.

The breeding mothers live a horrendous life breeding one litter after another with no socialization at all. At the age of about six or seven, or when they cannot produce anymore, they are often killed since they are now a financial burden.

Puppy mills produce dogs that are of poor quality and, more often than not, sickly. Puppy mill pups are stripped from their mothers as young as six weeks and transported by trucks and airplanes when their immune system is low. With this come illnesses such as the deadly parvo virusand distemper.

Why are these puppy-millers in business if they are so bad? It's a very simple case of consumer demand for a cheap "product" and consumer ignorance of the actual origin of their new puppy."This cycle of abuse in puppy mills and homelessness due to overproduction is allowed to occur because there are currently no checks and balances in place to ensure that the puppy brokers, who access dogs from puppy mills, do not sell animals in our communities" maintains Lorie Chortyk.

Chortyk continued: "We respect that this wasn't any easy decision for Richmond's city council, but it is the right decision and it builds on the city's existing reputation as a humane and responsible community that does not tolerate animal cruelty."

The only way that we are going to stop the abuse of puppy mills is to stop the demand placed on their product through pet retail outlets.

Kudos to Richmond for leading with humane standards for other communities in BC and Canada.

Puppy mills arebad and the only way to put them out of business is to stop the demand. So how can you be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

If there is a specific breed that you are interested in, check with the local shelter first, as pure breeds are often available for adoption. We adoptedour first Dachshund from the shelter and another friend adopted two. There are many rescue groups also with terrific dogs just waiting for that perfect home.

There are good, reputable breeders but it does take time to find one. Check with our local vets for their opinion. Take your time. When you do find a breeder, go there and see the facility for yourself. A good breeder will only have one breed or possibly two to offer you. Make sure you meet one of the puppy's parents. As for genetic disorders associated with the breed, find out if any of the previous pups have exhibited any. A reputable breeder will provide a guarantee. A reputable breeder will ask you many questions, much like the process of adopting a new baby. You may even be asked to sign a non-breeding agreement which would prohibit you from breeding your pup. A reputable breed will take the pup back if for any reason you cannot keep it.

Dogs are wonderful creatures no matter what kind you choose. Just do the right thing and stay away from the puppy mills.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this important topic. Please e-mail me at

On another note:

Congratulations to Lindsay Andreza on the arrival of Miss Molly. Puppyhood can be challenging but well worth it.

Jo and I saw Secretariat last week. It's the story of a very strong willed woman and the horse that she believed in. It is also the story of one of the greatest athletics ever. In 1973 he became the first champion in twenty-five years to win the Triple Crown of racing, setting new race records in two of the three events in the Series. He was ridden by a Canadian jockey and trained by a Canadian.

Secretariat broke records that still stand today. When Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, he was declared a freak by many because of how he just ran away from the other horses in that race. It's a beautiful movie that might even deliver a few tears.