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durhamregion.com

r0amy0
May 26th, 2005, 01:05 PM
Pet Peeves
Committee struggles with licensing bylaw

May 24, 2005
By Jillian Follert


OSHAWA - The fur was flying this week, as Oshawa's Corporate Services Committee held a special meeting to discuss new regulations for pet stores and kennels.

The meeting, which marked the third time the issue has been debated in two months, drew a crowd of store owners, animal rights activists, hobby breeders and other pet industry experts, who were largely critical of the committee's direction.

According to a report issued by Corporate Services Commissioner Rick Stockman, the issue surfaced in 2004, when an Oshawa resident expressed concern about the state of the city's pet stores, when her puppy died of Pavro virus, eight days after it was purchased.

Following a staff review of the current licensing bylaw, which does not include pet stores and kennels, and a well-attended public meeting in March, several amendments were recommended:

* pet stores and kennels be required to obtain municipal licences;

* that staff caring for animals are properly trained;

* that sick animals receive prompt care;

* and that animals receive care for a minimum number of hours in a 24-hour period.

"We all agree that there should be regulations, but I can't for the life of me figure out why you're only targeting pet stores," said Trent Pets owner Greg Barda, angry that the proposed bylaw exempts the Humane Society and other shelters. "They sell pets, they're open to the public, and they also have cases of Pavro and other diseases. Why would they be treated differently?"

Also criticizing the bylaw was Jacquie Blackburn of the Durham Avicultural Society, whose 200 members breed and raise birds. She said the amendments will put unnecessary strain on people who enjoy pets as a hobby, not a business.

One of the few voices in favour of new regulations was Debbie Hunt, who spoke on behalf of the Humane Society of Durham Region and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).

She noted that they receive up to 50 calls per year, reporting animal cruelty at Oshawa facilities.

"A lot of the calls we get, we can't do anything about because there is no bylaw. In some cases we can lay criminal charges or issue an order under the OSPCA Act, but that's it," she said. "We would like to see something that makes people accountable when they're selling animals."

In an effort to satisfy all parties, Councillor Brian Nicholson introduced a motion to create a new advisory committee comprised of pet industry experts, but he was voted down by committee members who said too much time has already been devoted to the process.

The proposed bylaw was referred back to staff for another review, and will come back to the Corporate Services Committee on June 27.