The fur industry and the Quebec government are reacting after a Montérégie farmer came under fire when the Montreal SPCA released pictures of alleged cruelty towards mink and foxes.

The story has sent shockwaves through the industry, according to Marcel Leclair, who has been raising mink for their fur for 30 years and knows the owner of the St-Jude, Que. farm in question.

He said he and his fellow fur farmers are afraid of retaliation from animal activists.

“It’s a completely isolated case,” said Leclair.

The Montreal SPCA released a series of images and videos on Thursday, alleging fur farmer Jean-Luc Rodier is mistreating his foxes and mink.

Breeder Marcel Leclair says the accusations of cruelty at Jean-Luc Rodier's farm are not the norm in Quebec.

“This has really scandalized us because it doesn’t reflect well on the industry,” said Leclair. “We know the person and we don’t believe that it’s negligence.”

Leclair said he thinks it’s out of character for Rodier not to take care of his animals.

He said the price of fur has dropped in recent years and he wonders if that has hindered Rodier's ability to care for his mink and foxes.

Prior accusations

Rodier has faced accusations of animal cruelty and negligence in the past.

In 1996, he faced 262 charges of cruelty to animals and negligence.

He was found guilty on 32 counts of negligence, while the rest of the charges were thrown out.

However, SPCA officials said the province is aware of the new allegations.

“The only protection these animals have is governed by a ministry that doesn't seem willing to step it up to provide real protection for these animals,” said Alanna Devine, Director of Animal Advocacy at SPCA Montreal.  

Improving conditions?

On Friday, Laurent Lessard, the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, released a statement saying conditions on the farm have improved since the SPCA visited three weeks ago.

She said animals are getting medications and care, and cages have been changed.

The minister said inspectors are there every two days and each animal has a care plan

She also said there are plans to speed up changes to the law to better clarify who is responsible for intervening in these situations.