Here's where you can still get dogs, cats and rabbits in Vancouver

Dec 14 2017, 4:35 am

Now that Vancouver’s pet stores are no longer allowed to sell dogs, cats and rabbits, there remains one crucial question.

Where can you look to find your next canine companion, feline friend, or bunny buddy?

To help, we’ve put together this list of resources to help you search for a perfect match. Here’s hoping you can find your forever furry friend.

Dog breeders

Buying a puppy from a breeder can seem like the ideal way to bring a dog into your life. With no previous owners or life experience, they can seem like a blank slate.

But not all breeders are equal, and there are many operating as puppy mills, keeping the animals in awful conditions and selling sick pups to unsuspecting buyers.

So it’s important to do your due diligence when considering buying from a breeder. Here is some advice from the BC SPCA to help:

  • Visit the place your puppy is being raised. The breeder should be open to questions from you, and ask you questions to make sure you’re the right fit for their pup.
  • Ask about the medical history of the parents, any frequent genetic problems associated with this breed, and what the breeder does to avoid abnormalities.
  • Make sure the pup’s mom is calm around humans. Find out where the pups were born, who has handled them and how often, and where the mom lives and plays.

Avoid breeders who have multiple litters, sells different breeds, won’t let you visit the animals, refuses to answer your questions or give you medical records, and has no contract.

Note that the Canadian Kennel Club has a searchable database of member breeders, who have to meet standards for proper breeding, maintenance, and selling of puppies.


Adopting an animal may seem fraught with difficulty. Perhaps the animal has been abused, perhaps it will be untrainable, perhaps it won’t live as long as an animal from a breeder.

But it is a myth that there are no purebred or young animals waiting for rescue. As well, the BC SPCA vets all potential adopters to ensure you are a good match for your new animal.

Every cat, dog and rabbit available for adoption at the BC SPCA is spayed or neutered and comes with a free health check from a local veterinary clinic (where applicable).

Cats and dogs are vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, receive flea/tick protection and come with six weeks of free pet health insurance and a bag of food.

Adopters of small animals also receive handouts for general care and feeding/housing requirements to ensure even rabbits find a friendly forever home.

City of Vancouver Animal Services

With so many rescue groups about in Vancouver, the City pound can get overlooked. But the pro-adoption shelter re-homes 200 to 300 dogs and small animals every year.

The City has dogs of all ages, from newborn puppies to senior dogs, looking for a forever home. You can find them all on Petfinder or you can visit the shelter on Raymur Avenue.

All adoption applications are assessed to make sure you will be the forever owner the animal needs. Your references and landlord/property manager will also be contacted.

Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA)

Ok, but what about cats? They need homes too! And each year, more than 1,400 cats and kittens are adopted through VOKRA.

As you should expect, the adoption process is robust, with plenty of required reading on their website and assessment processes to ensure the animals find the right forever home.

Note that VOKRA usually adopts kittens out in pairs. However, an exception can be made to provide company to an existing household cat.

Other animal rescue groups

There are a ton of other great rescue groups in Vancouver, including Thank Dog I Am OutLEASH, and the Dhana Metta Rescue Society.

Whichever rescue group you’re considering, try to hold them to the same standards you would expect from the BC SPCA or VOKRA.

Answering an ad online

When animal owners are struggling to provide the home their pets deserve, they do sometimes advertise them for rehoming on Craigslist and Kijiji.

However, in some cases, these pets in need have turned out to be the abused animals of puppy mills, being sold off sick and traumatized for profit.

Therefore, it’s worth approaching online sellers in the same way you would approach breeders, especially if the animal is still young, or the price is high.

See also
Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

+ Pets & Animals