Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The real cost of that doggie in the window

I love going to the feed store in Middleton.  Not just for the old fashioned 'warehouse' atmosphere or the know everyone by name friendly service either.  Nope ... in a world where imported wolves disguised as local sheep seem to find their way onto grocery store shelves, its a refreshing change of pace to get honest answers when I shop.
Its the same reason that I love going to our health food store in Greenwood.  Not the bulk barn in the mall, but the real deal across the street where the staff actually know what they're talking about. One can either buy small packages of things that haven't been pawed over by who knows how many or big bags straight from the supplier.  Once again .. there are no mysteries or fuzzy areas to be found.
When Ralph Nader first brought auto safety issues into the limelight, he was vilified by the entire industry. Why?  Did they not want to provide safe vehicles?  Did they want to be responsible for loss of life?  Or were they simply unwilling to cut into the profit margin? 
For whatever reason, the auto industry in general, and GM in particular, hired private detectives to tap Mr Nader's phones, investigate his past and even went to the extreme of hiring prostitutes to try to trap him in compromising situations.   Mr Nader's well publicized lawsuit against GM for invasion of privacy was ultimately settled for over a quarter of a million dollars.  In the same year, 1966, his book "Unsafe at Any Speed" was responsible for the unanimous passage of the National Motor Vehicle and Safety Act.
Why is that important?  Because the act shifted the onus of responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the manufacturer.   It set a precedent in consumer protection legislation that has rippled into all aspects of manufacturing. 
Its hard to imagine that was only forty four years ago.  These days safety standards are such a selling point that auto manufacturers are tripping over each other to compete.
This week, a promising proposal to ban the sale of pets in Toronto pet stores was postponed like the political hot potato it has become .... likely in the high hopes that it will be forgotten water under the bridge by the subject pops up on the agenda in the New Year.
Not surprisingly, local pet stores are opposed to the plan and a "Church St. pet store manager says his store buys from home breeders and tries to ensure older pets are sold before bringing in a fresh crop of kittens and puppies. He says he would be saddened to see the ban implemented — not only would he lose revenue, he would also lose the opportunity to sell pets to first-time owners."
Of course he doesn't mention that reputable breeders Never Sell to Pet Stores.  Naturally he doesn't explain that as imperfect as the CKC system is, that his puppies will likely not qualify for CKC registration.  Nor does he go into any detail about the environment the animals come from.
Why can he do this?  Because there are no consumer protection laws for pet owners.   Legislation would limit the ability of commercial breeders to market their wares.  Anything that will cut into THAT profit margin will be strongly opposed by PIJAC.  ( the sticky subject of how reputable breeders are allowing themselves to be tarred with the same brush is a separate topic that has been, and will again, find its way into its own posts on this blog)
The pet industry represents big money and it would take a bigger romantic than myself to expect it to be self regulating.   
What would good consumer protection legislation for pet owners look like?  It would:
  • ban sale of any animal in the free online ad sites
  • prohibit the sale of pets in pet stores
  • include mandatory breeder registration, and
  • a "lemon law" that would obligate all pets purchased to come with a health guarantee
The commercial pet industry would like the public to believe that banning the sale of pets in pet stores would mean that rescues and shelters would be their only options.  The pet store manager in the article was not alone in stating that "  At the same time, I don’t think people who are inexperienced pet owners should be getting pets from shelters"
Not to be mean ... but more problems have been posed for inexperienced pet owners with the show me the money no questions asked approach of pet stores than have have been generated by rescues and shelters.  But I don't want to wander afield.
If the NDP bobsled team would like to polish up its increasingly tarnished image, implementing provincial consumer protection legislation for pet owners would be a dandy place to start.  
What time is it?  Its time to remind our MLA's that when over half the voters in this province have a pet, making sure that 'doggie in the window' doesn't break their hearts and their bankbooks is long overdue.

1 comment:

The 'splorin' Wolfies said...

OHHHHHH--this is a good one Janet!