Commentary  Breeding better policies

The recent seizure of over 500 dogs from a rural Quebec dog breeding facility has brought the province’s poor animal rights record to the forefront. Earlier this year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund in California named Quebec as “the best province to be an animal abuser”.  Quebec has become notorious for its puppy mills, which produce dogs in an industrial manner for sale to pet stores. Puppy mills usually lack hygienic living spaces or adequate food and water, putting these puppies at high risk of developing internal parasites and contagious diseases. This practice is an embarrassment to the province of Quebec.

The reason for the growth of puppy mills is twofold, stemming from issues of supply and demand.  Suppliers in Quebec take advantage of both lax policy enforcement and loopholes in puppy mill classifications. Bill P-42, the current Quebec animal rights legislation, states that those found guilty of operating a puppy mill face fines of $15,000, while Saskatchewan has fines of up to $25,000. Futhermore, the current legislation fails to give clear descriptions of puppy mills, leading to the law rarely being enforced. New legislation is forthcoming, but without large fines as well as distinct definitions of puppy mills there is little reason to believe that the problem will be stemmed.

While the producers are no doubt morally culpable for their actions, those who purchase animals, without adequate knowledge of their origins, create a market for the breeders. Toronto recently banned the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores to avoid creating a market for the mills; Montreal and other Canadian cities should follow in their example. With so many pets in need of adoption, and so many talented small-scale dog breeders, there is no reason to buy from a pet store.

Currently, there is a huge demand for volunteers to assist with rescued dogs. The Humane Society International was involved with the seizure and holding the more than 500 dogs and puppies in an undisclosed facility in the Montreal area. While the legal process is underway, and while the future of the dogs is still uncertain, there is a need for volunteers who can clean cages, feed and groom animals, and be good human companions. If you are interested, please get in touch with Humane Society International at