Quebec cabinet minister Geoff Kelley said on Friday that allegations of animal abuse on a fur farm are disturbing. 

Kelley chaired a government committee on animal abuse convened in 2009 to address Quebec's notoriously lax pet cruelty laws.

On Thursday, CBC News reported that the Montreal SPCA accused a fur farm of abusing its foxes and mink in St-Jude, Que.

Following up on a complaint, the SPCA obtained a warrant to investigate Jean-Luc Rodier's fur farm in May. 

Geoff Kelley

Geoff Kelley was the chair of a committee to look at Quebec's animal cruelty laws. (CBC)

There, they found nearly 100 foxes and thousands of mink. SPCA director of animal advocacy Alanna Devine said she was horrified when she arrived at the farm.

“Animals not having access to adequate water, large amounts of excrement, filthy cages... the sort of things that would be outrageous if we saw dogs… wired bottom cages, no access to a solid floor,” Devine told CBC News. “Difficult things to see.”

Inspectors seized 16 Arctic foxes, because a permit is required to keep them.

On Friday, Kelley was asked why the province did not seize the animals. He replied by asking where the thousands of animals would go if they were seized. 

Last week, the province's agriculture minister announced the government would amend the Civil Code to better protect domestic animals.

However, Kelley said, the animals on the fur farm fall under the purview of the Natural Resources and Wildlife ministry, not the Ministry of Agriculture. 

As it stands, Quebec's regulation respecting animals in captivity stipulates that it is legal to keep some animals in captivity for breeding purposes or for fur trade provided that at least 10 adult females of the same species are kept. 

The SPCA said the fur farm contravened Quebec's laws on animals in captivity, namely Art. 3:

 Any person who keeps an animal in captivity, except an amphibian listed in Schedule I, kept in the fishing area and for fishing purposes, shall:

  1. Provide it with drinking water and food in sufficient quantity and of sufficient quality to meet its physiological needs.
  2. Keep it in a clean place suitable for the needs of its species.
  3. Ensure that it has access at all times to a shelter suitable for the needs of its species.
  4. Ensure that it receives the care required by its health condition.