Executive Director for WECHS pleased with proposed legislation to crack down on puppy mills

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The Executive Director for the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society is pleased to hear about proposed legislation to help stop puppy mills in the province. 

Speaking on AM800's The Shift, Melanie Coulter is reacting to the proposed legislation issued by the Ontario government on Monday, which would aim to stop unethical dog breeding operations. 

The Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act (PUPS Act) if passed, will amend the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS Act) to stop harmful dog breeding practices, impose penalties, and make sure that dogs across Ontario receive the care they deserve.

Solicitor General Michael Kerzner states that if this passes, Ontario will be the first province in the country to introduce minimum penalties specific to puppy mills.

The changes proposed will prohibit practices most often associated with puppy mills such as breeding a female dog more than three times in a two-year period, 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, separating a puppy from its mother before the age of eight weeks, among others. 

Coulter says she hopes the government can keep up with enforcement if this passes.

"To see the government take these steps is a great step forward. And of course, what we're also hoping for is that the government is going to be putting the enforcement behind this because the legislation is great, but they need to ensure that the inspectors are on the ground to be able to enforce it as well."

She says this legislation is needed, as the puppy mills are a heartbreaking sight. 

"Puppy mills can have usually dozens, but sometimes hundreds of dogs. The conditions aren't great, the conditions are what you'd expect from a really bad puppy farm where their primary purpose is to breed quickly, and to sell them for a profit. Medical care falls by the wayside, cleanliness falls by the wayside."

Coulter says in the meantime it's important to know the red flags when purchasing animals. 

"It's important if you see concerns, if you're purchasing a puppy and the seller won't let you see the parents, won't talk to you about where they came from, or if they're repeatedly listing large numbers of puppies, or puppies of a variety of breeds, those are some red flags to look at."

Under the new legislation, the province will introduce minimum penalties of $10,000 for bad actors operating a puppy mill and $25,000 if these violations result in the death of a dog. 

Changes will also allow the province to help develop regulations to set conditions that must be met when selling or transferring a dog and establish regulations for record-keeping.

Ontario also intends to consult on regulations relating to medically unnecessary procedures for dogs and cats, such as declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, and debarking.