The B.C. SPCA is calling on the provincial government to implement legislation that will require licensing and inspection of animal breeders, after 66 dogs were seized from a Langley, B.C. breeder last week.

According to the SPCA, 34 puppies and 32 adult dogs were living in small crates and cages stacked in dark, unheated buildings with dangerous ammonia levels resulting from accumulated urine. The SPCA is recommending criminal charges be laid.

Animal advocates say more needs to be done to prevent people from establishing puppy mills.

"Some element of government regulation — proactively — is necessary to protect the public and to protect these animals who have been paying the true cost of this really exploitive practice," said Geoff Urton, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Relations of the BC SPCA.

The organization responds to about 200 complaints every year, according to Urton.

Current legislation

seized dogs

Without licensing laws, the onus is on potential buyers to do their homework before buying from a breeder said the BC SPCA (Belle Puri/CBC)

The current legislation, the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, only allows the SPCA to obtain a warrant if a member of the public complains about a breeder's unethical practices.

"Our legislation is quite reactive," said Urton. 

Last week's seizure was made possible by a tip from someone who was trying to purchase a dog and gained enough access to the site to see the conditions, according to Urton. That information gave the SPCA enough information to obtain a warrant.

Urton says the SPCA is in talks with the provincial government about creating tougher legislation against unethical dog breeding.

"We have been in conversation with them and we're definitely encouraged by what we've seen."

But for now, the onus is on buyers to check the breeder's reputation before buying a puppy.

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: B.C. SPCA says we need to regulate pet sellers