Despite a city of Montreal by-law banning the practice, pet stores across the city are continuing to sell puppies and kittens received from breeders, Radio-Canada has learned.
The by-law, which came into effect last July, means that pet stores had to source their dogs, cats and rabbits from shelters like the SPCA.
The by-law is being challenged in Quebec Superior Court by 25 pet shop owners, who worry it could set a province-wide precedent.
The group requested an injunction to suspend the by-law last August and lost.
But some shops have chosen to flout the rules regardless, continuing to sell animals that they've obtained from breeders.
François Saint-Louis, the owner of the Aquarium du Nord store in Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough, said it was a financial decision to continue while the case is heard.
"If I can't sell [the animals], I'd have to close up shop," Saint-Louis said.
"We're forced to fight because a minority of pet stores didn't respect hygiene standards. We're being made out to be the villains, it's sad."
Other boutiques, such as the Safari pet store in Place Versailles, told Radio-Canada they also chose to keep selling animals from breeders.
Pet stores that violate the by-law could be fined up to $4,000.
The lawyer representing the stores, Yves Pépin, said the shops take care to ensure their animals are seen by veterinarians and are in good health.
"What worries me the most is that people will go online to buy a cat or a dog," he said. "[When they come from a puppy mill] animals can be sick and no one can tell."
The city of Montreal declined to comment, citing the ongoing judicial process, but said that inspectors will do the rounds of animal stores to ensure they are complying with the by-law.
No inspection has been done yet, officials said.