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Don't buy pets on impulse — do your research

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A ball python was heartlessly tossed in a dumpster in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, many people end up with pets they can’t properly care for.

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A ball python was heartlessly tossed in a dumpster in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, many people end up with pets they can’t properly care for. Photo Store

Responsible pet ownership has jumped back into the news recently. Some uncaring soul disposed of a harmless, helpless ball python in a dumpster.  

As I write this, the culprit has not been apprehended; I hope they catch the person and deal with him/her appropriately. Unfortunately, people end up with pets they can’t or won’t properly care for.  

Sometimes, they are impulse purchases, something that seems like a great bargain and is bought without doing the proper research.  

The wonder of the Internet can be the culprit many times, giving unscrupulous sellers an easy way to sell damaged, defective or misrepresented animals to people who aren’t ready for them. And once the sale is done, they disappear.  

But online sales sites are still there, making it easy for people to pass a bad purchase along to the next unsuspecting buyer. And the cycle of mistreatment repeats.

Most pet buyers do the research and make good decisions, but many don’t, and that is where the problem stems from. Some pets can be with you for decades.  

If I had a nickel for every person that came in and asked "How do I stop this animal from this behaviour?", and then they tell me the animal is doing something that species is well known to do, I’d be a rich man.  

Cats scratching furniture, parrots squawking, a small wild lizard not being able to be held, a Jack Russell needing a lot of exercise — these are all behaviours that a few minutes of research would have revealed to be likely problems. But impulse took over, and now they’re stuck with an animal they can’t handle or don’t want.

Responsible pet ownership starts with responsible pet sales. Brick-and-mortar pet shops are the first line of information for most pet concerns. Properly-run stores have the knowledge and expertise to give proper advice on the care and needs of most pets.  As permanent members of the community, they have a vested interest in creating successful pet/human relationships.  
Both the provincial and local governments are introducing more barriers for pet stores. Instead of making it easier to have a rewarding pet experience, the obstacles are actually making it harder.

The province has the Animal Care Act which requires breeders and pet stores to be licensed. A comprehensive piece of legislation, but it doesn’t seem to be getting enforced at present. The act requires pet stores to be licensed, but as of yet, we have heard no specifics of this licensing or when it will be enforced.

The city is also formulating a new bylaw that mentions pet stores. Unfortunately, the first draft had vilified pet stores, instead of partnering with them. We have yet to see the changes being made to the first draft of the bylaw, but hopefully they will recognize how important pet shops are in the community, and the vital role they have in responsible pet ownership.

Contact Jeff with your questions or ideas at aardvarkpets@shaw.ca or visit www.aardvarkpets.com

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