The owner of a puppy mill voluntarily surrendered some 60 dogs to the Montreal branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Friday afternoon.

The small dogs, filthy and frightened when they arrived at the shelter, are now being taken care of by SPCA volunteers.

Alanna Devine, Acting Executive Director for the SPCA, said in press release that she was pleased that the owner of the puppy mill decided to give up some of her animals, and she hoped that others would do the same.

"We were fortunate that the dogs were surrendered to us because, while the conditions of the dogs at this facility were certainly unacceptable, the owner of the facility was acting in conformity of the Criminal code and therefore we were powerless to take any legal action in order to seize the dogs," said Devine.

"The current Provincial animal welfare structure is doing little to stop puppy mills from operating in this province," she added.

Government working group to address pet cruelty

Quebec's Agriculture Minister Laurent Lessard recently announced the creation of a working group to strengthen existing laws on pet cruelty.

In a statement issued from his office on Feb. 12, Lessard said Quebecers are increasingly concerned about animal abuse.

"When we see footage that shows their mistreatment beyond the shadow of a doubt, like the images from puppy mills, it forces us to act."

The working group, which includes representatives from various animal welfare organizations, is chaired by Geoffrey Kelley, Liberal MNA for the riding of Jacques-Cartier.

Among other proposals, the group is studying "a draft regulation that would make the registration of all places where dogs are housed, sold or bred mandatory in Qu�bec."