28 February 2016

B.C. Government to Strengthen Laws Governing Cat and Dog Breeding

The B.C. government recently announced it is beefing up its animal cruelty laws to better safeguard vulnerable cats and dogs from irresponsible commercial breeders.

Under its Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the province will set out rules outlining stringent practices for breeders in both kennel and cattery operations.

“Animal cruelty is unacceptable,” says Premier Christy Clark. “We’re taking another step towards stopping those cat and dog breeders who don’t provide adequate care. Together with the BC SPCA and key stakeholders, we will develop a system that supports responsible pet breeders in B.C., and targets the ones that aren’t.”

Housing, ventilation, food and water, care and supervision, as well as behavioural needs, socialization and transportation will be covered under the Codes of Practice, which enhances existing rules and sees B.C. boast the toughest provincial penalties in Canada aimed at protecting animals.

Under the Act, charges can be laid against anyone who causes suffering or distress to an animal with those convicted facing maximum penalties of $75,000 and up to 24 months imprisonment.

“British Columbians deserve the certainty that companion animals sold in our province are born and raised in a secure, caring environment, and we will be bringing in changes to help ensure it,” Jane Thornthwaite, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour says. “We’ll be working with the BC SPCA, veterinarians, reputable breeders, and other stakeholders to see how we can best target commercial dog and cat breeders who do not provide appropriate care to animals.”

Legislation highlights include requiring “prompt and adequate veterinary care (be) provided” for dogs who are “sick, injured, in pain or suffering” - and for cats, “veterinary care is provided at the first indication that the animal is not well.”

It also calls for daily cleaning and sanitizing, minimal spacing requirements for housing for dogs and cats and requires written procedures for animal care be posted and thus available to personnel at all times.

The rules rely on the Canadian Veterinary MedicalAssociation’s Codes of Practice for both kennel and cattery operations as generally accepted management practices for cat and dog breeders in the province – a move commended by Craig Daniell, chief executive officer of the BC SPCA. “British Columbians are passionate about animal welfare. Recent events have reinforced the public’s desire for regulation of breeders to prevent animal suffering,” he says.

Consultations are underway to look at everything from breeder licensing and inspection regulations in the development of new laws to assist the SPCA monitor and take action against irresponsible breeders.

Legislation amendments are anticipated in 2017.

While the government encourages people to report any events which may be in contravention of laws and regulations, Catherine King, breeder and owner of Splendent Standard Poodles, says citizens can play a part in preventing animal abuse “by only purchasing from recognized breeders who treat their animals with the love, care and respect they deserve.”

In 2011, the province introduced enhancements to animal cruelty laws with higher penalties and greater accountability stemming from the reported mass killings of 100 sled dogs.

By Nadia Moharib
Nadia Moharib is an animal lover who has adopted everything from birds to hamsters, salamanders, rabbits, fish and felines. She has written about all-things-pets for years and was a long-time editor of a pet magazine in a daily newspaper which featured a Q & A column, Ask Whit, penned by her pooch (ghost written, of course.) The serial dog owner lives in Calgary, Alberta and most days can be found at a dog park picking up after her rescue pooch, Scoots.

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