The public will now get a chance to weigh in on the decision to ban retail puppy sales in suburban Vancouver, after three readings of the new bylaw were passed unanimously Tuesday night.

City councillors in Richmond, B.C., spent hours hearing from the public and debating the decision. The move, A Canadian first, is intended to curb the purchase of animals from puppy mills and stop people from impulsively buying animals.

Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt said a fourth reading, which finalizes the motion into law, will happen within the month. Pet store owners will then have until April 2011 to sell or remove all their puppies.

"People are going to learn that animals have the right to decency to have their health looked after," she told "Now other cities will do the same thing."

Animal rights activists are trumpeting the council's decision, saying pet store puppies aren't awarded the same freedoms as dogs raised by reputable breeders.

"These pets that we're talking about that are shipped to pet stores they don't start out as pets, they're simply livestock," Rae Goodrich of the B.C. SPCA told council.

Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the B.C. SPCA, says the new bylaw is the first step in shutting down Canadian puppy mills.

"Any simple business model states that if you take away some of the demand, like these dogs, you'll have an impact on the production," she told

The owner of Richmond's Pet Paradise, one of the only city shops that still sells animals, says the bylaw won't curb puppy mills because people can still buy dogs from unregulated agents on the internet.

Ernest Ang said he was not properly consulted by the city and feels his business has been unreasonably targeted.

"We're always totally against puppy mills. We are against cruelly to animals. We are pet lovers and that's why we're into this business."

Others opposed to the puppy ban say by shutting down retail sales the city will lose control of its ability to regulate the health of the animals that end up in people's homes.

"Why would you take a way the only source of puppies -- the only source that the public, the city, and animal protection officers are able to monitor?" asked Robert Church.