wildlife pet stores

Two news stories out of Ontario, Canada have surfaced recently that present opposing views about how animal welfare issues are handled in the province which begs the question—what on earth is going on in Ontario?

One of the latest stories to come out of the province is the ban on selling dogs, cats and rabbits in all pet stores in Kingston. This has proved to be a huge animal welfare win as Kingston is now one of three Ontario cities to enact such a ban, according to the National Humane Education Society.

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The city announced that the new policy aims to lower the number of unwanted pets, discourage puppy mills and to in time reduce the economic burden to taxpayers, whose dollars are used to fund the care of these unwanted pets in local animal shelters.

Kingston City Councilor Rick Downes said, “[This new policy] will mean fewer strays to be turned into the humane society which means lower fees for the city.”

The pet sale ban is definitely a big step in the right direction for animal welfare in the province. It shows that citizens are becoming more conscious about what they purchase and what they are supporting with their tax dollars. Moreover, it illustrates how animal protection policies are ultimately beneficial to all parties involved—the animals themselves, the city and local citizens. The ban deserves to be praised and will undoubtedly save many lives.

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But then there’s another Ontario story that has surfaced—one that is less than joyful. If you have not yet heard, Ontario’s government has just introduced a youth wildlife trapping program aimed at children ages 12 to 15.

This decision was met with congratulations from the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers (OFAH) and the Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF), two organizations that lobbied to get this program off the ground. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OFMF) is the governmental body behind the launch of the program.

Beginning this fall, interested Ontario youth will be eligible to obtain trapping licenses which will allow them to possess, prepare and sell animal pelts commercially, reports SYS-CON Media.

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Cultural, historic and economic significance are cited as reasons behind Ontario’s decision.

“Trapping is considered an activity of significant historical, social, cultural and economic value in Ontario for centuries, and one that results in economic benefits to the communities and individuals,” said Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti in a statement. “Ontario trappers have worked tirelessly for many years towards a program like this which will guide youth to be safe and responsible trappers.”

Yet, if one really looks closely at Canada’s trapping history, it is in no way a pretty, beneficial picture. Graphic accounts aside, thanks to trapping the country’s sea mink population was completely wiped out and also led to the near extinction of native beaver populations.

So pet sales are banned in Kingston in part for economic reasons, then a youth trapping program is started for similar reasons? What does this mean for Ontario?

Well, it seems that Ontario, like many other places across the world, is conflicted when it comes to animal welfare. While some animals, usually companion animals, are protected, others, like wildlife and farm animals, are subject to continued or additional abuses and suffering. It is the great divide that has been apparent for years and illustrates that there is still quite a way to go.

But of course, all is not lost. While the fight for the protection of all animals continues, the city of Kingston has shown that change is indeed possible and that local citizens have the power to help make significant change happen. These types of achievements must be celebrated and inspire a movement toward even greater triumphs.

Image source: Wikipedia Commons