The Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has shut down another puppy mill and saved more than 90 animals from “deplorable” conditions. This time the operation was both a puppy and kitten mill, where on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2015 the Montreal SPCA raided a South Shore mill in Quebec just south of the city of Montreal, and seized 57 dogs, mostly small purebred breeds, and 36 cats, mostly Cornish Rexes. The breeder is still unnamed as the SPCA and the Crown considers charges for animal cruelty.
The SPCA has been monitoring this particular breeder for some time, but are not making their name public yet. The animals were living in terrible conditions in close quarters, caged, where they not cleaned; they are mostly suffering from health problems relating to living in those circumstances. The director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA Alanna Devine told CBC News; “[They were] really deplorable conditions. We’re obviously still building our file but there are a lot of medical issues, things related to animals being kept in close confinement, exposure with ammonia and just lack of general care.” The SPCA is currently assessing and treating the 90 animals.
At this point, the SPCA is still conducting its investigation to see if the breeder can be charged under the existing laws. Both the SPCA and the Crown has 90 days to make their cases. The SPCA has to prove that it would of detriment to the animals if they were returned to their owner, while the crown has “to lay charges.” Each year the Montreal SPCA sees thousands of complaints, last year alone there were 1,200 complaints regarding 3,000 animals according to CTV News.
Quebec has very tepid laws regarding animal cruelty. The province was once the puppy mill capital of Canada, however in the past couple years the province and the SPCA have been working to slowly shut them down, Still the Animal Health Protection Act does not have strong and stringent enough laws. The Animal Legal Defense Fund named Quebec one of “the best places to be an animal abuser.” The punishments are not that harsh either, each potential charge has a maximum $12,000 fine and the mill runner could be barred from ever operating another breeding facility again.
The SPCA is working and advocating to change those laws. Quebec’s agriculture minister Pierre Paradis wants to change the Quebec Civil Code laws regarding animal welfare and protection. He sees the best way to protect animals is to change their status from “personal property” to “sentient” “living creatures,” making “pain and suffering” a consideration when courts punish abusers found guilty. In comments from August 2014 Paradis explained; “We were inspired by what was done in France, where they redefined the concept of the animal as a being that is capable of feeling pain. We’re looking into the judicial consequences of that but we don’t want it (the animal) to remain personal property.”
Devine expressed in the SPCA’s press release; “Seizures such as this one demonstrate that puppy and kitten mills constitute an ongoing problem in Quebec and that more needs to be done to regulate commercial breeding in this province. Minister Paradis’ bill represents a unique opportunity to effect real change for animals in this province and we, at the Montreal SPCA, look forward to working with the Minister and his team towards this goal.”
Still the laws the Quebec government has not changed the laws although Minister Paradis intends to introduce a bill in the next few months. Facilities similar to the one raided continue to exist, where the breeders sell the puppies and kitten to pet stores and now increasingly through online sales. Devine pointed out that “The fact that [mass breeders] continue to exist is fact or signal for us that we need stronger legislation. We feel that everybody breeding animals for commercial purposes should be required to get a permit.” Now permits are only required if their breeding operation owns more than 15 animals.
Devine recommends as a solution promoting adopting animals, to divert the need for puppy and kitten mills. Recently the pet store chain Nature Pet Center ceased selling dogs and is promoting adopting programs however, they still sell kittens. The problem is as long as there are requests for purebred dogs and cats, and designer mixes, the demand will be there, as it is very difficult to find the breeds people want at shelters. The best way to stop such mills and the terrible treatment of animals is stringent laws with tougher consequences, and second do more to promote reputable breeders, who actually care for the dogs and cats they own, breeding, and selling.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian, Israeli and international news, anything from crime to human interest stories and everything in between.