Nov 4, 1997
"SPCA wrong to associate with new pet store"
by Nicholas Read
Firm will see exotic animals, which cannot be cared
for in captivity, perpetuating inhumane attitudes, practices.
This Friday a new kind of pet-supply store will open in
Vancouver. Modeled in part on PETsMART, a giant U.S. chain,
Petcetera will have SPCA dogs and cats for adoption among its
stacks of dog and cat food.
It will have a special shelter for 10 rescued animals, who will
be adopted out exactly as they are at the SPCA. Even the adoption
fees will be the same, going partly toward spaying or neutering
the animal and partly to SPCA coffers.
PETsMART has been doing the same thing in its U.S. and Canadian
stores for years, but Petcetera, at the corner of Grandview and
Rupert, is the first store of its kind to do it in Vancouver.
However, Petcetera will be selling other kinds of animals for
profit, just like PETsMART. Opposite the makeshift shelter there
will be an appalling array of birds, fish, rodents and even
reptiles for sale; company vice-president Dan Urbani calls it the
It's living proof of the Orwellian maxim that some animals are
more equal than others.
Urbani defends the practice saying that "customers demand it."
He also says that none of the animals sold will be wild-caught.
Instead, they all will come from "reputable" Lower Mainland
Fair enough, but from an ethical point of view, it's still
indefensible. Selling living creatures for profit and amusement is
wrong - especially exotic animals like reptiles which can't be
looked after properly in captivity.
From a business point of view, it's understandable. Petcetera
wants to make money; if it can make it selling birds and reptiles
for profit it will. At least it's seen the light where dogs and
cats are concerned.
But what about the SPCA? Is it right that an organization
dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals will benefit from an
association with a company whose business practices perpetuate
inhumane attitudes and practices?
The SPCA deals with all kinds of rescued animals, including
birds and rodents. Until now, reptiles went to the Rainforest
Reptile Refuge in Surrey, but it can no longer accept more snakes,
lizards or turtles because it's overrun with them.
At SPCA shelters, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs are put up
for adoption every day.
Yet here is the SPCA giving its tacit approval to disseminating
even more of these animals through its association with Petcetera.
Petcetera says that once its other Lower Mainland stores have
opened - in about 30 months - it hopes to contribute $1 million to
the SPCA. That's quite a carrot. The SPCA needs money to operate
and Petcetera needs the SPCA to legitimize its cat-and-dog
But it still means the SPCA is compromising what should be
inviolate principles. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter what kind of
animal is involved.
SPCA Greater Vancouver regional director Doug Hooper says he is
satisfied that Petcetera is well-intentioned and that animals sold
for profit will suffer no harm in breeding or transport. He also
believes their sale will for an insignificant part of Petcetera's
Perhaps, but exotic animals bred domestically are still exotic
animals, unfit for domestic sale. And while it's understandable
that the SPCA would wish to champion what's right about
Petcetera's policies - and reap a $1-million reward in the bargain
- that doesn't excuse it overlooking what's wrong.