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Ontario goes after 'unethical' dog breeders in newly proposed puppy mill law

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The animal welfare law that prevents unethical dog breeding at puppy mills in Ontario will be given more teeth, according to new legislation introduced on Monday.

The proposed Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales (PUPS) Act would amend the previous legislation to prohibit what the province called the “harmful” dog breeding practices often used by breeders at puppy mills.

If passed, the province would make it illegal to:

  • Breed a female dog more than three times in a two-year period, or breed more than two litters from a female dog’s consecutive heat cycles
  • Breed a female dog that is less than a year old
  • Fail to keep a dog with a contagious disease away from other dogs or animals
  • Fail to ensure a dog’s environment is sanitary and free from accumulation of waste
  • Separate a puppy from its mother before the age of eight weeks

Those caught breaking any of the new rules would face a minimum penalty of $10,000. If those violations result in the death of a dog, the accused would face a penalty of $25,000.

In a news release, Ontario Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said the province is the first in the country to introduce minimum penalties specific to puppy mills.

“Ontario currently has the strongest penalties for animal welfare violations in the country and we will not stop until dogs, and other animals across the province, have a comprehensive and robust system to ensure their safety,” Kerzner said.

The province also said it is considering banning what it described as “medically unnecessary” procedures for both dogs and cats, including declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, and debarking.

The heads of the Ontario SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Humane Society and the Canadian Kennel Club both welcomed the proposed legislation, with the latter saying the Act works to support responsible breeders.

“We look forward to working with the government to address the puppy mill issue and ensure that the new legislation will consider the interests of responsible breeders who prioritize the health and wellbeing of dogs," Jeff Cornett, executive director of the Canadian Kennel Club, said in the news release.

Prior to the introduction of the PUPS Act, the Progressive Conservative government enacted the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act in 2020 which marked Ontario as the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement animal welfare enforcement across the province. 

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