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Old 06-30-03, 09:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun-2003
Location: Aldergrove BC
Age: 43
Posts: 3
Reptile Ban...April 03 city meeting

(Report: Apr. 7/03, File No.: 8060-20-7504) (REDMS No. 980293, 992525, 986554, 986558)

Staff Solicitor Rebecca Bittel, accompanied by the General Manager, Finance & Corporate Services, Jim Bruce, explained that the proposed amendments applied only to pet stores. She advised that the amendments now being proposed had resulted from Super Pet applying for a business licence, at which time a question had been raised about the types of animals which that store would be permitted to sell.

Ms. Amanda Fenrick, representing the West Coast Society for the Preservation and Conservation of Reptiles, voiced her opposition to the proposed prohibition of the sale of wild or exotic animals. She referred to the staff report and expressed her disagreement with a number of statements made with respect to the such matters as the potential serious health risks posed by snakes to humans. A brief discussion ensued between Cllr. Steves and the delegation on the feasibility of encouraging pet stores to sell animals which were indigenous to Richmond.

Ms. Cheri Simmons, Store Manager, Super Pet, spoke in opposition to the staff recommendation which would result in a total prohibition of the sale of wild and exotic animals in pet stores. A copy of her submission is attached as Schedule A and forms part of these minutes. Copies of ‘care’ bulletins which Ms. Simmons circulated to the Committee are on file in the City Clerk’s Office. Ms. Simmons indicated that she and her store supported the ‘alternative approach’ proposed by staff.

Discussion then ensued among Committee members and the delegation, during which information was provided that:

Ms. Simmons supported a ban of the sale of certain types of reptiles because of their size, such as boa constrictors and pythons

education was a high priority with the staff at Super Pet to ensure that future owners were fully aware of what would be required of them in taking care of an animal

difficulties could arise for the owners of reptiles if they were no longer able to purchase live food for their reptiles from pet stores; if the prohibition was imposed, pet stores would no longer have a reason to stock such food as they would no longer be permitted sell reptiles.

Mr. Ian Toon, General Manager, Super Pet Canada, spoke about the negative financial impact which such a prohibition would have on pet stores because residents would be required to go elsewhere to purchase reptiles, the equipment needed to provide the reptiles an adequate living area, and their food. He advised that Super Pet did not sell reptiles to any individual under the age of 18 without the approval of a parent or guardian.

Mr. Toon then spoke about the commitment required of pet owners to their animals, and the difficulties encountered in trying to find homes for reptiles, during which he stated that there was no evidence to indicate that these animals were being released into the wild. He also spoke about the keeping of reptiles, stating that reptiles did not carry any greater risk than the average cat or dog, and the likelihood of reptile owners becoming ill with salmonella poisoning. In concluding his presentation, Mr. Toon advised that he would support the regulated sale of reptiles.

Mr. John Edmundson, Manager of Pet Habitat, expressed concern that the proposals which he had suggested as part of the feedback sought by the Staff Solicitor had been disregarded in the bylaw now being considered by the Committee. He noted that reptiles as pets were becoming more and more popular and now City staff were proposing a total ban of captive bred reptiles because of perceived health issues. Mr. Edmundson advised that his company would like to continue to offer reptiles as pets to their customers; he added that the ban would make it more difficult for reptile owners to purchase food and products to maintain their pets in the best of health. He further stated that Pet Habitat did not object to regulations to control the selling of reptiles but were of the view that an outright ban was ‘overkill’.

During the discussion which ensued with the delegation, Mr. Edmundson stated that he would support regulations regarding the sale of the dangerous species of venomous and poisonous reptiles and giant snakes. He stated that with regard to the larger snakes, the issue would be whether a facility was available which could accommodate these snakes.

Mr. Glen Ranger, an employee at an animal supply wholesaler in Richmond, spoke about the rapid increase in popularity of reptile ownership. He expressed the opinion that an outright ban on the sale of reptiles was foolish, and suggested that education was the key to ensuring that reptile owners took proper care of their pets and were responsible in the way in which they handled their pets.

A brief discussion then took place among Committee members and the delegation on the matter of reptile sales, during which Mr. Ranger reiterated his support for the ‘alternate approach’ proposed by staff to regulate the sale of reptiles.

At this point in the meeting, because of the support given by the delegations who had spoken in support of the ‘alternate approach’, the Chair, with the Committee’s agreement, asked that all subsequent speakers focus their remarks on this proposal.

Ms. Val Lofvendahl, of Gilbert Road, and a reptile enthusiast, spoke in support of the ‘alternate approach’. She referred to correspondence which she had sent to the Mayor and Council (dated April 21st, 2003), and reiterated that the health risks related to the keeping of reptiles was not as high as suggested in the staff report. A copy of Ms. Lofvenchal’s letter is attached as Schedule B and forms part of these minutes.

Ms. Lofvendahl spoke about the need for education and cleanliness, and voiced her support for the posting of signs and the care sheets issued by Super Pet. She also advised that the keeping of native snakes was illegal.

Ms. Dawn Patterson, the owner of Fin-Omenal Fish & Exotics, expressed support for the ‘alternate approach’. She stated that she prided herself on the cleanliness of her store, how she housed her reptiles, and only purchased her reptiles from local breeders. Ms. Patterson further stated that her snakes were disease free and that potential customers had a week of orientation before they were allowed to take their purchases home.

Ms. Calli Jensen, a ‘team leader’ at Super Pet, advised that she bred animals and was a reptile enthusiast. She stated that a total ban on reptiles sales would have a negative impact on her customers.

Ms. Debra Probert, Executive Director, Vancouver Humane Society, spoke in support of a total ban on the sale of reptiles. A copy of Ms. Probert’s submission is attached as Schedule C and forms part of these minutes.

Discussion then ensued among Committee members and the delegation. In response to questions, Ms. Probert advised that there should be a ban on the sale of all exotic animals.

Mr. Craig Daniel, General Manager, Cruelty Investigations, BC SPCA, addressed a number of concerns which he had with the proposed recommendation to expand the list of prohibited animals to include certain wild and exotic animals. He stated that the proposed amendment would result in a significant increase in the number of abandoned exotic animals within the City, and commented that the SPCA did not have the facilities to keep these animals. He advised that the BC SPCA currently provided bylaw enforcement to the City and a change in the Business Regulation Bylaw would mean that the Society would have to examine the question of how and what would the impact be on the enforcement of the bylaw in the future.

Mr. Daniel referred to statements made that having reptiles as pets was no different than owning cats or dogs, and stated that one of the problems was that there was no where to send abandoned reptiles and that the only option was euthanasia. He urged the Committee to think of the larger picture, noting that there was already a problem with abandoned red-eared slider turtles, and he questioned which species would be next. In concluding his presentation, Mr. Daniel urged the Committee to adopt the staff recommendations and not permit the sale of reptiles.

In response to questions from the Committee, Mr. Daniel advised that approximately 20% of the complaints received province-wide by the SPCA from the public dealt with reptiles, however statistics were not available for Richmond. He further stated that allowing the sale of reptiles could result in an increase in the number of complaints received by the BC SPCA or the City, and could result in increased enforcement requirements.

Ms. Christine Schramm, representing the Raintree Reptile Refuge Society, stated that there was a major problem in the Lower Mainland with unwanted reptiles and advised that she received telephone calls on a daily basis from people with dying, sick or unwanted animals. She then provided information on the Raintree Reptile Society, noting that the facility currently housed over 400 snakes and other reptiles. Ms. Schramm questioned whether reptiles should be considered as pets, and noted that certain reptiles, even though they start out small, grow to become very large.

During the discussion which ensued among Committee members and the delegation, Ms. Schramm, in responding to questions about educating the public, suggested that perhaps schools should have education programs on reptiles.

Discussion ensued briefly among Committee members on the appropriate course of action to take, and as a result, the following referral motion was introduced:

It was moved and seconded

That the report (dated April 7th, 2003, from the General Manager, Finance & Corporate Services), regarding Clarification of Pet Store Regulations regarding the Sale of Wild Animals, be referred to staff to bring forward bylaw amendments which support the “alternative approach” proposed in the staff report; and that the following issues be addressed as part of this “alternative approach”:

whether there should be any discrimination in the types and sizes of snakes;

the inclusion in the “alternative approach”, consideration of restricting sales to captive-bred reptiles

the inclusion of legislation which would prohibit the sale of reptiles to anyone under the age of 18;

the need for some type of education for all types of pets;

the inclusion of a requirement that pet store operators must keep a pet registry for reptiles and exotic animals;

the inclusion of a requirement that information be provided to customers on potential health risks; and

the sale of red-eared slider turtles;

and that staff consult with the various pet store operators and other interested bodies in the preparation of the proposed bylaw amendment.

Herpetoculturist and Hobby Breeder
Kerry Woolacott
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