We’re the best—at abusing animals

Quebec needs stricter animal welfare laws in order to protect puppies like these. Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Canada.

Quebec has the worst animal welfare laws in all of Canada, and despite public outcry and persuasion from animal welfare advocates, laws and regulations have yet to be brought up to par with our neighbouring provinces.
Our province was named last May as one of the best places in Canada to be an animal abuser, along with Alberta, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, in the 2011 annual report released by Animal Legal Defence Fund. The American organization’s report analyzes legislation that limits animal cruelty, and found Quebec lacking.
New regulations are being implemented too slowly and sometimes not at all. For example, in July, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) released new resolutions based on two-and-a-half years worth of propositions and study to the Animal Health Protection Act from veterinarians, animal welfare experts, and industry representatives. Among the resolutions accepted and implemented, the SCPA pointed out seriously critical points that were not included in the MAPAQ’s update such as veterinary care, a maximum number of breeding dogs per facility, enrichment for dogs and cats confined to cages for extended periods of time and loopholes in euthanasia methods.
“Because of the lack of a proper legislation, a lot of puppy mills have settled down in Quebec, generating filthy conditions, excessive breeding, sick puppies and, more generally, basic cruelty to animals,” said Martine Lachance, director of the International Research Group in Animal Law at UQAM, in 2007.
The influential animal rights advocate was speaking to Voiceless, an animal rights group. Problematic to her is also the lack of a central organization in Quebec or Canada.
Other propositions have been denied completely outright. Recently, Michael O’Sullivan of the Humane Society of Canada suggested mandatory sentencing for offenders in animal cruelty cases. While federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says that animal cruelty is “totally unacceptable” to both Canadian society and his government, he said there are no plans to implement this proposal.
According to the CBC, Quebec has a draft of new animal welfare regulations designed to crack down on puppy mills by putting in law minimum standards for cleanliness and care, but who knows when these proposals will actually take place.
We need stricter laws and resolutions in Quebec, and we need them now. As it stands, a puppy mill kennel operator in Quebec can expect to face fines up to $1,200 (as was the case for the operator of the Clarendon kennel in which 527 dogs were seized this month). That’s roughly $2.25 per dog. In Ontario, the same offence would land the kennel operator in jail for two years, face fines up to $60,000 and receive a lifetime ownership ban. Send them to prison and see how they like being in a cage.
While MAPAQ Minister Pierre Corbeil says that fines will be increased to $10,000 or $25,000 for first time offenders, it is still far from being as much as a deterrent as Ontario’s laws. Additional jail time is also necessary, on top of higher fines, as a way of preventing offenders from re-offending. However, the damage caused by Quebec’s lax animal welfare laws is already brutal.
For how long does Quebec want to be known as the puppy mill capital of North America?


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