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All bark and no bite: Why Quebec’s new animal breeding laws are useless

Long known as the puppy mill capital, the province of Quebec unveiled new regulations today around animal breeding.

The Agriculture Minister François Gendron said the aim is to ensure that cats and dogs are bred and sold humanely. "And we make a significant step to improve the welfare of companion animals in Quebec," he said in this press release.

Sounds like good news, right? An image overhaul for the better – and safer rules mean protecting the countless helpless animals from horrifying conditions like this?

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But a slightly deeper read of the new regulations reveals huge flaws to experts. Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the CBC that there are ways to get around the permit rules: a person could still own 13 female dogs and one male, and not need a permit.

Though one small step in the right direction was made: gas chambers will no longer be an acceptable form of euthanizing animals in the province, according to the CTV story. It's a good move– but one that is shockingly overdue.

But what's worse – the process for the permit simply involves filling out some paperwork, with absolutely no inspection of the home or premise.

Johanne Tasse of Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec told CTV it's a decision that "doesn't make any sense."

"I would much prefer to see an inspection and then provide a permit rather than doing it the other way around. I think it's putting the cart before the horse," she said.

Readers of that story took issue with this: "The permit BEFORE the inspection. What kind of craziness is this?" said commenter Jen on the CTV story. "Useless clap trap with no guts to it," Mr. John commented.

You don't have to look very far to see my own personal views on dog breeding (although I did have to bend, when I learned how it can be done strictly and passionately.)

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The world has too many dogs in poor conditions, and too many people looking to make a quick buck from living creatures. (If you want to be inspired by a Canadian's efforts to change this, read about Dominique Rousselle.)

While dog breeding itself won't ever be outlawed, Quebec could have taken real, actionable steps to create a better life for its animals – tracking the pets, instituting random inspections of people selling animals, and a licensing process that requires some real effort.

Instead, it's just going to charge puppy mill owners to apply for a meaningless permit – the province itself making a quick buck.

The new law doesn't equate to any real change for the most vulnerable creatures in Quebec – so one has to wonder, aside from a press release and a thinly veiled attempt at an image revamp, what's the point?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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