With a reputation for being the puppy mill capital of North America and faced with an overpopulation problem, the province of Quebec has decided to create new rules to control puppy mills and animal breeding.

As of November 7, anyone who owns 15 or more dogs or cats must have a permit for their animals, explained Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Francois Gendron.

Obtaining a permit, however, will simply be a matter of filling out paperwork. Government agents will not inspect anyone's home or workplace to verify the living conditions of animals unless a complaint is made.

Individuals, pet shops and animal shelters will also need permits.

The new rules will also outlaw the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals.

Animal rights activists have long been lobbying the provincial government to come up with strict rules regarding animal breeding, and have often brought forth evidence of animals living in horrible conditions as proof that Quebec has the dubious puppy mill capital reputation.

“This newregulation is here under the recommendation of the working group,” said Gendron.

The initial reaction to the new laws is positive among animal rights activists, considering there has been a longtime lobby in place for stricter rules concerning the treatment of animals in Quebec.

Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA said there is a lot of work that remains to be done.

""We were hoping to hear that there would be inspections before permits were given, however on the other hand it was very exciting to hear the minister announce that there will be in the future a limitation on the number of animals permitted in a breeding facility," said Devine.

She said the law needs to go one step further, however, by developing a tracking system for every animal.

“We really want to make sure that animals sold in pet stores, animals sold online, or through any other third party means are able to be traced back to the person from whom they came,” said Devine.

Devine said focusing on where animals come from would be more effective than doling out permits.

“Right now you would be able to have someone with 13 females and one male breeding, and no way to trace them because they won't be required to get a permit,” she said.

So far, the province said the permits will be handed out after a list of criteria is met, but prior inspections won't be mandatory, something Johanne Tasse of Companian Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec disagrees with.

“I would much prefer to see an inspection and then provide a permit rather than doing it the other way around. I think it's putting the cart before the horse to us it doesn't make any sense,” she said.

Still, animal rights lobbyists say the rules are moving things in the right direction since, they say, it's been the lack of such regulations in the first place that's allowed the situation to become so dire.