Puppy Mills in Canada

Humane Society International

  • We’re working to end the cycle of needless cruelty. Gina Dunwell-Rushing

Imagine your pet confined in a small, filthy cage for his whole life without ever seeing the outside world, with no proper access to food and water, and without human contact and love. This is how thousands of dogs throughout the country spend their lives. They exist for the sole purpose of breeding, again and again, to produce puppies to be sold in pet stores or online, profiting the breeder. Unfortunately, puppy mills are all too common in Canada and much still needs to be done to make sure this industry is shut down for good.

A cruel industry

A puppy mill is a breeding operation in which puppies are mass-produced in substandard conditions. The goal is to produce as many puppies as possible with minimal cost to—and maximum financial gain for—the operator. The puppy mill industry has grown exponentially in Canada, and it is now a multimillion dollar business in this country. Puppy mills cannot meet the needs of a dog. These dogs live in inadequate and overcrowded housing, often with poor sanitation, and are often under-fed and denied proper veterinary care. The majority of breeding females spend their entire lives in small, filthy cages without exercise, love or human contact. They are bred continually until their tired, worn bodies finally give out and they can no longer produce enough puppies (usually at four to six years of age.) At this point, they are no longer deemed profitable and are simply killed, as are unsold male dogs.

Puppy mill breeders allow over-breeding and inbreeding to occur. Most puppies have, or will develop, genetic defects or other health problems sometime in their lives as a result of poor breeding practices and unsanitary conditions at the puppy mill. They often have behavioural and temperament problems as well, resulting from a complete lack of socialization with humans or other dogs.

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Puppy mill pups are everywhere

While many are located in Quebec, puppy mills operate from coast to coast in Canada. Animal protection groups believe that the vast majority of puppies sold in pet stores in Canada come from puppy mills. Puppy mill dogs are not only sold in pet stores, but also through the internet, at flea markets or advertised in local newspapers. They can also be sold directly from the mill although visitors are generally not allowed inside the facility to see the conditions in which the breeding dogs are kept.

Quebec is Canada’s puppy mill capital

Although they exist all over Canada, a large portion of Canada’s puppy mills can be found in Quebec due to its particularly poor enforcement of animal welfare laws. Although the Quebec Animal Welfare and Safety Act (B-3.1) could be used to shut down the worst puppy mills in the province, the authorities rarely apply it in practice.

Contrary to many other provinces in Canada, there is no provincial SPCA that oversees the enforcement of animal welfare laws in Quebec. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) is responsible for the enforcement of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act. MAPAQ mandates a few local SPAs/SPCAs, most of them largely under-funded, to apply the animal welfare legislation in certain regions of the province. However, it is MAPAQ that ultimately decides the course of action in each case, and with little resources dedicated to enforcement, seizures of neglected animals are extremely rare.

What we are doing

HSI/Canada and our U.S. affiliate, The Humane Society of the United States, are fighting puppy mills on several fronts, from conducting investigations, to rescuing dogs from cruel puppy mills, to lobbying for stronger provincial and federal laws.

In recent years, the HSI Animal Rescue Team has assisted the Quebec government in rescuing more than 1,000 dogs from inhumane conditions at commercial breeding operations and from neglect situations throughout the province. But thousands of animals still remain confined to a life of misery and suffering in puppy mills. There is still a long way to go and we won’t stop until Canada’s puppy mills are shut down for good. Join us in the fight—with your help, we will succeed!

What you can do

  • Learn more and read the latest news, then take action to put an end to the needless cruelty of puppy mills.
  • Shop for supplies at one of the puppy-friendly pet stores listed here [PDF].
  • Opt to adopt!