What We Do

Pets Are Not Products

Don’t support animal cruelty.

If they don’t come from a shelter or rescue, every pet sold in a retail store comes from an inhumane breeding mill.

Our Pets Are Not Products campaign aims to bring awareness to the inhumane practices of animal breeding mills and backyard breeders. Many people aren’t aware that animals bought in stores and online don’t come from reputable sources and are often bred in deplorable conditions.

Animals destined for stores and online sales often spend their lives in cramped wire cages. Many never have their medical needs taken care of and are killed when they are no longer able to breed.

Pets sold from these operations are often sick and have behavioural issues. Unsuspecting people may fall in love with the cute pet in the window but end up with heartache and years of expensive vet bills due to the neglect and malice of these breeders.

Beware of Online Sales

Online Sales


As the number of pet stores that sell cats, dogs, and rabbits decreases, there seems to be an increase in the online sales of pets. Just as a reputable breeder would not sell their animals through a pet store, they would also not do so online or in a newspaper. Sites such as Kijiji are not reputable sources and likely are not putting the animal’s health before profit. The No Puppy Mills Canada website is an excellent resource for what to look for in a reputable breeder.


Facebook Animal Sales


There are multiple Facebook groups exist solely for advertising pets for sale in communities throughout BC. However, animal sales are explicitly not allowed on Facebook. When you find a group or page on Facebook offering a pet for sale that is not clearly identified as an animal rescue organization or animal shelter (that can be verified), then they are very likely a “backyard” breeder.

Unfortunately, Facebook’s policy prohibiting the sale of animals in posts, is not well-enforced and sellers are not always honest. A common ploy is to post that a pet needs to be “re-homed” but, once again, the only way to ensure you are not supporting irresponsible, for-profit pet sellers is to go to the location and verify for yourself where the animal comes from.

You should report all Facebook posts offering animals for sale. Responsible rescues and shelters will highlight the pets they have available for adoption or foster on Facebook but will not sell any pets—they will always require you to complete an application and home check.

Small Animals


While our lobbying efforts have focused on banning the retail sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits, our long-term goal is a ban on the sale of all animals. Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs are bred and transported in horrific conditions and are dumped at alarming rates. Local shelters have limited capacity for these small animals and organizations such as Small Animal Rescue Society of BC bear the responsibility of caring for and re-homing discarded small animals.


Online Ad Sites


Beware of any online ad site that sells pets, especially if they offer to ship that pet to you or refuse to provide the location where the animal lives. No matter how convincingly the sellers portray how well the dogs or cats might cared for, the reality could be very different—dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pets warehoused for breeding and living in very poor conditions.

Commercial breeding facilities are only able to sell these poor animals in pet stores and through online ad sites and websites. Keep in mind that anyone can create a website; there is no guarantee that the information presented on it is factual. Sometimes, the breeder will proclaim that the business is not a puppy mill. Unless you see firsthand where your puppy comes from, trusting the content on a website is risky. The internet is the perfect and most common place where consumer fraud occurs.

Online Ads, Real Life Suffering

Puppy Mills


In BC, puppy mills and for-profit breeders proliferate throughout the province— particularly in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, and Northern BC. Because puppy mill pets are raised in deplorable conditions with little human interaction, these pets often having significant behavioural issues that may not be apparent to the buyer until the new pet is brought home. (Studies have backed up this anecdotal evidence.) In addition, puppies and kittens sold by for-profit breeding mills have a much higher chance of suffering from physical health issues due to malnourishment, filthy living conditions, and lack of access to veterinary care.

“Backyard” Breeders


“Backyard” is a painfully inaccurate description of the operations that mass produce pets for sale. Most of these animals rarely (if ever) see the light of day or a grassy backyard; instead, they are bred and housed in garages, farm buildings, trailers or sheds. Like puppy mills, backyard breeders are motivated solely by profit—there is little to no concern for the health and well-being of the animal and no concern whatsoever about who purchases the pet! They may try to pass themselves off as reputable and caring but they are not. And making matters even worse, the backyard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation in Canada.

What makes a responsible rescue?

Rescue organizations must abide to the same animal cruelty laws as the general public, but there are currently no regulations that govern rescue organizations. Anyone can say they are a rescue; but what makes a rescue reputable? Here are some things to look for in a responsible animals rescue organization. (Remember these are just guidelines—it is important you do adequate research before adopting any pet.)


  • Responsible rescues spay or neuter the animals prior to adoption.
  • Responsible rescues have a veterinarian examine and vaccinate the animal you are adopting. The rescue should provide you with copy of any veterinary records the animal may have. If the rescue tells you they lost the paperwork or they cannot find it, request the name of the vet and call the vet to verify the information.
  • A rescue should NOT charge exorbitant fees for the animal you are adopting. (The goal is to cover expenses and/or offer a donation to the rescue.)
  • All rescues should have the animal in the best health possible before adopting. If a rescue adopts out a animal with health issues they should be honest and upfront about the issue. They should also be honest about the animal’s temperament and/or needs.
  • A good rescue will spend time communicating with you to ensure the best possible match for you and the animal.
  • All rescues should have a contract upon adopting the animal. They should state clearly that they will always take the animal back, for any reason, at any time.
  • The pet should be microchipped or tattooed.
  • Responsible rescues will provide resources for training and or advice. Rescues should want the adoption to work and will offer support.
  • Responsible rescues should let you come and view their location. (Unless the location is a private home.) They should want you to meet the animal a few times to be sure it’s a good match.

What makes a responsible breeder?

As defined by the Canada Animal Pedigree Act, a purebred dog is a dog that has parents of the same breed that are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. One cannot sell a dog as purebred without papers from the registry! Remember: up to 30% of dogs in shelters are pure bred dogs and many rescue organizations specialize in specific breed rescue.

The best place to find a reputable/responsible breeder is to check with specific breed clubs or the find registered breeders on the Canadian Kennel Club website.

A reputable breeder…

  • Takes responsible care of all animals providing for all of the animal’s needs for healthcare, socialization and enjoyment of life.
  • Belongs to a national, and/or local, breed club.
  • Abides by the breed club’s Code of Ethics.
  • Tests their breeding stock for any congenital diseases, conditions (ie: hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s Disease, retinal dyslasia, etc.), and strives to eliminate genetic problems by breeding only sound dogs—shown to be free of any serious physical conditions and/or temperament problems.
  • Only breeds animals that have excellent temperaments.
  • Is very knowledgeable about their breed.
  • Strives to better their breed.
  • Immunizes their animals appropriate for location and age of pups/dogs.
  • Screens potential owners thoroughly, and does not sell to those who are unsuitable. A reputable breeder wants to know about you, your household, your schedule and your ability to properly care for a puppy throughout its entire lifetime, this may include an application, reference and home check.
  • Educates potential owners, and discloses any pertinent information about their breed.
  • Has a spay and neuter contract or alters animals prior to sale.
  • Offers new puppy owners guidance and support or the animal’s entire lifetime.
  • Never sells animals to pet brokers, pet shops or puppy outlets of any kind (including so-called “Kennel Clubs”). Period. Many pet stores and puppy outlets tell prospective puppy buyers that their puppies come from reputable breeders, even though the large majority of these places actually get their puppies from puppy mills, brokers and commercial breeding facilities.
  • Shows, trials and/or titles their dogs or cats.
  • Supports or participates in breed rescue work whenever possible.
  • Never over-breeds.
  • Will take back an animal at any time.

“The need to end animal suffering is great everywhere, but the power of compassion is equal to that need.”

Scotlund Haisley, Animal Rescue Corps

Get Involved

Municipal Bylaws


Since 2011, Paws for Hope has been lobbying municipal governments across the governments to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits—and many have listened! To date, a number of BC cities have passed bylaws to prohibit the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in retail outlets unless they come from an animal rescue organization or shelter.



Download the Pets are Not Products toolkit.


You’ll find letters, petitions, printable flyers, and postcards to help you lead your own campaign against the retail sale of animals in BC. Thank you for giving time to our furry friends. Your advocacy makes change happen!

Download the Pets are Not Products toolkit and do your part to help en the selling of cats, dogs, and rabbits in BC stores.

Download the Toolkit

Municipal Bans


BC cities that have banned animal sales:

Richmond (dog and rabbits only), New Westminster, Vancouver, Delta, Surrey, Burnaby (dogs and cats), Victoria.

Best Friends Society has a list of jurisdictions across Canada and the US that have similar bans.



Advocate for a provincial ban of animal sales.


Selling animals in pet stores is an inhumane and archaic business practice. Do you want to see a province-wide ban? Send a message to your MLA that you support a provincial ban on the retail sale of animals!

Learn who your MLA is, find their contact info, and tell them that you support a province-wide ban of the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in BC!

Find Your MLA

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