Canada: A Haven for Puppy Mills
Before the mid 1990’s, most puppies in Canadian pet stores were imported from U.S., where puppy mills are widespread.
As a result of pressure from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) regulation was introduced by the Federal Government in 1995 requiring puppies being imported into Canada to be at least 8 weeks old, microchipped, vaccinated and health checked by a veterinarian.
Many importers did not meet these new standards, and the number of puppies being shipped across the border decreased (though many puppies from U.S. mills are still imported into Canada). This decrease created a demand that was met by an increase in Canadian mills.
It is unknown how many mills there are in Canada. Unlike the U.S., breeders are not obligated by law to register. However, even a conservative estimate places the number in the thousands.
Under Canada’s current animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code, it is very difficult to shut down puppy mills. The requirement to prove ‘intent to harm’ makes it almost impossible to hold puppy mill owners responsible for neglect.
In addition to the federal Criminal Code, each province has its own animal protection legislation. These provincial laws are only slightly better than the Criminal Code, and still very weak. The Province of Québec has earned the reputation of Canada’s puppy mill capital, with its Animal Protection Act being one of the weakest.
Most puppy mills operate rurally, and many are simply never discovered, largely ignoring any law – provincial or federal.
As of November 7th, 2013, Quebec’s Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries introduced new legislation whereby anyone owning 15 or more dogs or cats must have a permit for their animals.
Obtaining a permit, however, is simply a matter of paperwork. Government agents will not inspect any home or workplace to verify the living conditions of animals unless a formal complaint is made.
Until breeders are required to register, become licensed, and undergo regular and ongoing inspections of their facilities, puppy mills will continue to be a big problem in Canada.
Humane Society International/Canada (2012, November 30). “Canada’s Criminal Code”.
Humane Society International/Canada (2013, October 23). “Permit System for Quebec Commercial Breeders Needs Improvement”.