The leash on puppy sales could get a little shorter in Barrie.
Councillors have approved a motion that city staff investigate the feasibility of amending Barrie’s business licensing bylaw to implement restrictions to only permit dogs sold through a pet shop if they’ve been acquired through reputable sources including, but not limited to, an animal shelter, registered humane society and licensed breeder.
“I’m interested in seeing what staff come back with,” said Coun. Ann-Marie Kungl, who sponsored the motion. “Are we doing what we can within the parameters of our bylaw… to protect the welfare of animals around how they’re sold in the city of Barrie?”
Coun. Gary Harvey questioned the necessity, however, saying he has not heard of any such issues in Barrie and that the motion targets one retailer, which he did not name.
“As far as I’m aware, through a full day of investigating this, I have not found any evidence that there has been any issues with this particular retailer and it effectively would refrain them from being able to sell,” he said. “You’re effectively shutting down this retail business in a midst of a pandemic.
"We’re in our second week of being removed from lockdown, and I just question the timing and the intent of this," Harvey added.
Kungl said she’s not aware of any concerns and complaints, either, but did call the retailer to give notice her motion was on the agenda Monday night.
“(It’s about) tightening up bylaws where we can… making sure we are not enabling the sale or commerce of animals like puppies from puppy mills,” she said.
“I’m not against getting the information, however… we are targeting a single retailer in our city who has no history of abusing animals,” Harvey said. “This motion is solely not based on any concerns that you (Kungl) have been able to present at this point.”
Coun. Robert Thomson said the motion is limited by purchasing habits anyway.
“Let’s be honest, 95 per cent of all animals are sold online and that’s some of our troubles,” he said. “One in Barrie is still selling, but most pet stores are supplies and food and services.
“We’re really not going to capture the protection of animals in any way, shape or form with this bylaw," Thomson added.
But Donna Power, who’s with animal advocacy group Paws 4 Ontario, said this measure is needed locally.
“Our group works to improve the lives of domestic animals and promoting responsible pet ownership through policy and legislative change,” she said. “A keen area of focus is working with municipalities to add or update their bylaws to prohibit the sale of domestic animals — dogs, cats, rabbits — unless the animals are sourced from humane societies, shelters or recognized rescues groups.
“Currently, the majority of pet stores are sourcing their animals from commercial breeding operations, or puppy mills,” Power said.
City council will consider final approval of this motion at its March 1 meeting.