Today’s cute, tomorrow’s pest

What to do with all of these cats and dogs

One of last week’s headlines jumped off the screen and caught my eye: Toronto bans sale of cats ad dogs in pet stores.

They were trying to address the throngs of unwanted cats and dogs in the city. Some of the councillors blamed the stores for encouraging puppy mills and impulse buying.

Toronto’s city staff actually recommended that Council not take any action. They studied the issue by inspecting and questioning the city’s 30 licensed and seven unlicensed pet shops, and concluded that most of the shops kept their kittens and puppies in very good living conditions.

The puppy mill transactions, they said, seemed to come mostly through newspaper or magazine classifieds or through internet sites. And that impulse buying from a pet store was low because on average, the majority of dogs (35%) were brought from breeders, while the majority of cats (24%) were acquired from friends or relatives. Nine per cent of cats, 10 % of dogs were purchased through a pet store.

Quoting a 2008 country-wide survey for the above figures, the survey almost estimated that the average price for a dog was $286, the average cost of a cat was $53.

Impulse “buying” is easier if the product is cheap or free as well as cute. It also contributes animals who are allowed to run free and unaltered, or who are forgotten as soon as the cuteness wears off.

Responsible pet stewardship does not end at adequate food and water. Prevent unwanted litters by neutering your pet. Backyard breeding to make a few quick bucks is just another puppy mill on a smaller scale.

Wendy Coomber is the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal