MONTREAL - Quebecers have opened their hearts to 527 dogs seized by authorities from a Quebec kennel Friday.

Inspectors confiscated the dogs from the Paws "R" Us Kennel, a dog breeding facility in Clarendon Township, about 90 minutes northwest of Ottawa in the Outaouais.

Calls for adoption have flooded in, said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Humane Society International Canada.

"We've had such support from the Montreal community and all around Quebec. Offers are coming in from across Canada to adopt these very deserving dogs into loving homes," said Aldworth, adding that the adoption process can begin as early as next week, if a hearing determines Agriculture Quebec wins custody of the dogs.

The Agriculture Ministry teamed up with the Humane Society International Canada to rescue the dogs from the large-scale kennel.

"It's one of the worst operations, in terms of the conditions, that our team has ever seen in Canada," said Aldworth.

Charges will be laid against Paws "R" Us within 90 days, said Agriculture Minister Pierre Corbeil.

Tougher laws

The seizure comes just ahead of tougher new Quebec animal welfare regulations that were instigated almost three years when the Montreal SPCA raided puppy mills with deplorable conditions in Rawdon and St. Lin.

"Quebecers in general are sick of our reputation as being the puppy mill capital of Canada, if not North America," said Lauren Scott, campaigner for Humane Society International Canada.

The new regulations for the housing of cats and dogs will be introduced, and will create new powers for inspectors.

"(The will have the power) to intervene more efficiently in situations when the security and well-being of animals is being threatened," said Corbeil.

Humane Society International said it is looking forward to harsher measure promised by Quebec more than simply the higher fines and harsher penalties for puppy mill operators.

"Improvements in actually establishing standards in terms of access to food, to water, to exercise, the socialization, to veterinary care," said Scott.