Ninety dogs seized from a large-scale commercial breeding operation on Montreal's South Shore are now in the care of Montreal's SPCA, where they will receive medical attention.
The agency's director of animal advocacy, Alanna Devine, says the animals were being kept in unacceptable conditions, and many have health problems.
The rescued dogs are mainly small breeds, including chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers.
"Many of these mother dogs had likely been confined here for years, denied their most basic of needs," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, whose organization helped the SPCA with the seizure.
"When we walked into this facility, the smell of ammonia was so overpowering that it was difficult for us to breathe," said Aldworth. "Now imagine being a dog, trapped inside that place day in, day out, for years on end — and what that would do to your respiratory system."
"The dogs had teeth conditions, eye conditions. We saw some with skin conditions."
SPCA to seek legal custody of dogs
The SPCA said the commercial breeder, working out of an undisclosed location in the Monterégie, already faced fines under Bill 51 — the Quebec law adopted in June 2012 which beefed up the province's animal health protection act.
The agency is now gathering evidence in the hope of preparing a strong enough case to bring charges under the new law against the alleged puppy mill's operator.
SPCA officials say they will seek legal custody of the dogs, which would allow them to put the animals up for adoption once they are deemed fit.
Quebec's agriculture ministry also helped with the seizure.