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June 29, 2011

Quebec Animal Protection Groups Say Provincial Government’s New Animal Welfare Regulations Fall Short

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Pets in shelters deserve better. Kathy Milani

MONTREAL — Humane Society International/Canada, the Montreal SPCA, and the Centres d’Adoption d’Animaux de Compagnie du Quebec were disappointed by the release of the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation proposed animal welfare regulations. Together, the three groups are insisting that the Ministry revisit the legislation and make the necessary changes to protect companion animals in Quebec. Additionally, these organizations, each with expertise in various issues of animal welfare, are calling on the public to voice their concern directly to the minister during the 45-day consultation period.

“It is disappointing that these regulations which have been nearly three years in the making still fall short in addressing the animal welfare crisis in Quebec,” said Johanne Tasse, director, Centres d’Adoption d’Animaux de Compagnie du Quebec. “The public must speak out during this short 45 day window by August 5. This is an opportunity for the public to insist that stronger protection be afforded to cats and dogs in Quebec. Without improvement these regulations will do little to affect the suffering endured by tens of thousands of dogs and cats every day in the Province.”

"The way these updated regulations stand, a dog in Quebec could be locked in a small cage day after day, without any access to daylight, veterinary care or even basic enrichment and socialization,” said Lauren Scott, campaigner for HSI Canada. “In essence, these regulations are legally allowing puppy mills to continue to exist in this province”.

“It is critical that along with changes to the draft regulations, that a commitment is made to drastically increase the penalties for each convicted offence,” said Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy for the Montreal SPCA. “Other provinces have amended their penalty provisions to include fines of up to $75,000 and incarceration of up to two years, in Quebec the maximum penalty for a first time individual offender is a negligible $600. If we want this legislation to have a deterrent effect we need to do more than simply increase the fines for penalties by a couple of hundred dollars, we need heavy fines and jail time”.

In 2008, HSI Canada joined forces with the Montreal SPCA to rescue more than 330 dogs from Quebec puppy mills. The dogs were found emaciated and dehydrated, without adequate access to food, water and veterinary care, some dying in their cages. The massive public outcry that resulted compelled the Charest government in 2009 to establish a special task force under MAPAQ to improve legislation and enforcement in Quebec.

Over the past two and a half years, the special task force consisting of animal welfare experts, veterinarians, and industry representatives have worked together to update the P-42 (Quebec Animal Welfare Act) regulations. By bringing their expertise, research and view points to the table, they provided MAPAQ with the most effective knowledge on how to best update the Province’s animal welfare regulations. It should be noted, however, that due to the input of such a broad spectrum of opinions, the updated regulations do not necessarily represent a unified voice.

The recently released new regulations did successfully introduce a few important improvements, including mandatory exercise for each animal, compulsory grooming and trimming of nails and ventilation to ban contaminants such as dust and ammonia. Unfortunately, MAPAQ failed to address a number of key areas in the new animal welfare regulations proposed. Some of the most critical items not addressed in the regulations: veterinary care; maximum number of breeding dogs per facility; enrichment for dogs or cats confined to cages for extended periods of time; and loopholes in authorized euthanasia methods. The necessity to update P-42 was reaffirmed with the recent publication of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings for 2010. This report compared the animal protection laws of each provincial jurisdiction. Since 2008, Quebec has been on a steady decline to the bottom — this year ranked as the worst province in Canada. The report’s ranking of Quebec as the “best province to be an animal abuser” underscores the urgent need for action.

HSI Canada, the Montreal SPCA and caacQ will be compiling a formal document with their animal welfare recommendations before the August 5 deadline. This joint report will be made available for public consultation three weeks prior to the August 5 deadline.

The organizations are also urging members of the public to write in to MAPAQ requesting that the regulations announced be dramatically improved.

All comments must be submitted by mail or fax to Madeleine Fortin: Madeleine Fortin Sous-ministre adjointe, Direction générale de l'alimentation 200, chemin Sainte-Foy, 12e Étage Québec (Québec) G1R 4X6 Fax: 418 380-2171

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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