Ontario Passes New Anti-Puppy Mill Law; Advocates Push For Further Action

Animal welfare groups from around the world are praising the recent passage of the Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act (PUPS Act), but there is a growing demand for the Ontario Government to initiate consultations for implementing more robust measures to combat the problem of puppy mills within the province.

Spearheaded by Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, this legislation amends the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS Act) to outlaw several detrimental commercial breeding practices. These include breeding female dogs under a year old, separating puppies from their mothers prior to eight weeks of age, and neglecting to isolate dogs with contagious illnesses.

However, this bill is unlikely to significantly affect puppy mills and backyard breeders in Ontario. The PUPS Act fails to establish comprehensive standards of care regarding housing, nutrition, exercise, socialization, and veterinary care. It also lacks limitations on the number of dogs bred and does not mandate licensing for breeders, hindering inspection and enforcement efforts. Presently, authorities lack the means to locate and inspect puppy mills and other unethical breeding operations.

“We are pleased the government recognized that puppy mills are a problem in Ontario and took a small first step toward prohibiting them,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “However, the absence of a licensing regime is still a pressing issue—if authorities don’t know where breeders are located, it is difficult for authorities to identify and shut down unregulated puppy mills and irresponsible backyard breeders. There is still much work to be done, and we are calling on the province to create regulations under the PAWS Act to ensure breeders are licensed, and provide robust standards of care to protect dogs and puppies.”

Puppy mills are commercial breeding operations where profit takes precedence over animal welfare. Dogs in these mills endure overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, lack of proper care, socialization, and veterinary attention. Female dogs are continuously bred, leading to health issues and emotional strain. Puppies from puppy mills are often sold without adequate health checks, leading to genetic issues and health problems.

Puppy mills greatly contribute to pet overpopulation which leads to more animals being euthanized in shelters. Despite attempts to regulate them, puppy mills persist due to legal loopholes and inadequate enforcement.

Several witnesses from animal protection groups, rescues, and shelters appeared at the Justice Policy Committee, which studied the PUPS Act, to advocate for a licensing regime.

Animal Justice remains committed to working with lawmakers to build on the progress made by the PUPS Act and looks forward to future advancements that will help to ensure that all dogs in Ontario are treated with the care and respect they deserve.

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