Ethics of pet trade

7 10 2008

Story on audio at HACK.

Animal activists are concerned that too many pets are bought from pet shops on impulse. They’re also allege many of the pets are supplied to the stores from illegal puppy breeding farms.

Hence the bill in New South Wales parliament which if passed will ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores. Pet store owners are up in arms saying they have animal welfare as a primary concern. They believe they are the victims of cheap political point scoring.

The original bill was to apply to all pet sales from pet stores. That bill was scrapped, and at the time of this radio story it was being redrafted just to apply to cats and dogs. Abandoned hamsters and other furries (and non-furries, like fish) are obviously not an issue…

The argument for this law does make some sense. Puppy mills are an issue, and so are abandoned animals. It’s easy to see how making everyone get new pets from a shelter could make the world a better place.

However, in reply the pet industry also makes a good point – many sales are not made through pet stores, and that is the source of puppy mill trading. Banning sales through regulated pet stores might exacerbate the problem by creating further demand for privately (and unregulatedly) bred puppies and kittens.

More sensible approaches might be further regulation of private sales, and subsidies for pet desexing and registration.

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