Jack Russell Puppies. © Can Stock Photo / ZuzuleJack Russell Puppies. © Can Stock Photo / Zuzule

Province cracking down on puppy mills

The Ontario government has introduced new legislation to help ensure the ethical treatment of dogs.

If passed, the Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act (PUPS Act) aims to stop harmful dog breeding practices, including puppy mills, and impose stiff penalties on those who break the rules.

"Ontario currently has the strongest penalties for animal welfare violations in the country and we will not stop until dogs, and other animals across the province, have a comprehensive and robust system to ensure their safety," said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. "The Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act will help to ensure Ontario remains a leader in animal welfare by being the first province in the country to introduce minimum penalties specific to puppy mills."

Doug Brooks, President and CEO of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, agreed and called the legislation an important step towards protecting dogs. Brooks added that he still hopes to do more.

"The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society looks forward to continuing to work with the Solicitor General to further develop the detailed regulations that will provide the greatest protection possible for both dogs and the public," he said.

The PUPS Act will prohibit:

  • Breeding a female dog more than three times in a two-year period, or breeding more than two litters from a female dog's consecutive heat cycles

  • Breeding a female dog that is less than a year old

  • Failing to keep a dog with a contagious disease away from other dogs or animals

  • Failing to ensure a dog's environment is sanitary and free from accumulation of waste

  • Separating a puppy from its mother before the age of eight weeks

The legislation will also introduce minimum penalties of $10,000 to anyone found to be operating a puppy mill and $25,000 if these violations result in the death of a dog.

The provincial government also intends to establish regulations and monetary penalties for medically unnecessary procedures for dogs and cats, such as declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, and debarking.

Changes to the current Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS Act) through the new legislation will also allow the province to help develop regulations that must be met when selling or transferring a dog and establish regulations for record-keeping.

Jeff Cornett, Executive Director of the Canadian Kennel Club, said his organization "supports well-crafted legislation that is fair, non-discriminatory, and enforceable to target producers of unhealthy puppies, without unduly burdening responsible breeders."

Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full provincial animal welfare enforcement system when the PAWS Act came into effect in January 2020.

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