Stricter animal welfare laws in Quebec can't come soon enough
The horrifying images of Quebec's latest puppy mill raid in the Outaouais – where 527 puppies were seized – have ramped up calls for stricter animal welfare laws in the province.
And while changes are coming, they are not coming quickly enough for some.
However, the modifications to provincial law have made the lives of animal welfare inspectors easier, says animal rights advocate and SPCA spokesperson Alanna Devine.
"It gives very specific tools for inspectors to work with to ensure that dogs and cats are being cared for in an appropriate manner," she said.
For instance, the types of cages animals can be kept in, the quality of the food and water given to the animals and mandatory exercise – all of it is now regulated.
"If we're going to be doing more infractions on puppy mills, yes, because we have more regulations to be based on," said Anima-Québec president Caroline de Jaham.
Catching the violators has also been made easier. Just 18 months ago Quebec had only three animal inspectors, but that number has quickly climbed to 43 today.
There could be further changes to the law by the end of the year, but Quebec is still lagging behind other provinces when it comes to punishment.
"If you look in Ontario the maximum penalty for a first time offender is $60,000 and two years in prison," Devine said. "So we're talking night and day."
Quebec's fines are paltry by comparison at about $600 for a first time offender. But that, too, will change soon with fines increased to $10,000 to $25,000, says Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Pierre Corbeil.
Toronto also recently made changes to how dogs and cats are sold at pet stores. They now have to come from shelters, humane societies, or rescue groups. The decision was made at the municipal level, one animal advocates say can happen here if people write to their government representatives or simply become more aware of where their pets are coming from.
"People need to realize that they have the power to change things," Devine said. "They need to know where they're getting their animals from. They should be looking at the adoption option, they shouldn't be buying animals off the internet, and they certainly shouldn't be buying animals from a pet store if they don't know where those animals came from."