British Columbia

B.C. government passes law to better protect cats and dogs at commercial breeders

The provincial government has adopted the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Codes of Practice for both kennel and cattery operations as generally accepted practices of animal management for commercial breeders and boarders of cats and dogs.

Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, says licensing of breeders could come next

B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick, far right, was at the Victoria BC SPCA on Sunday April 24 to announce new laws targeting irresponsible cat and dog breeders. (Jane Thornwaite/Twitter)

The B.C. government says it has officially taken steps to improve the quality of care, management and the humane treatment of cats and dogs in commercial breeding establishments.

On Sunday it announced an order-in-council that adopts the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's Codes of Practice for both kennel and cat breeding operations as generally accepted practices of animal management for commercial breeders and boarders of cats and dogs in B.C.

B.C. Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick says the code balances the interests of the cat and dog breeding industries with what citizens in the province expect when it comes to animal welfare.

Dogs seized from a puppy mill in Langley in February, 2016 were found with broken limbs, missing eyes or ears, infections, abscesses, and fur caked in feces. (SPCA)

"The codes of practice will talk about cleaning and sanitizing, how many times a day they should be carried out, what the minimal spacing for dogs and cats are, written procedures for care that should be posted so that they are available to personnel at all times so that they can see them," he said in a phone interview with CBC News.

In addition the codes include specific requirements for housing, ventilation, food and water, care and supervision and transportation.

B.C. already relies on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to help regulate and police breeders and the codes will now be added as a new regulation along with the act.

"What this will do, is it will provide clarity to breeders of dogs and cats of what the standards of care are in B.C. and will also provide that same clarity to judges and the SPCA as they go about their work to bring people into alignment with that," said Letnick.

In a release, the province says it will now consult with kennels and cat breeders about possible licence or registration requirements to operate as a commercial breeder.

More enforcement coming?

"Other action may include possible proactive monitoring enforcement of commercial cat and dog breeders," said the statement.

Meanwhile in its codes of practice, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says there is no system in Canada to license kennels.

In February, Premier Christy Clark announced that her Liberal government would take steps to target irresponsible breeders of dogs and cats.

"We commend the B.C. government for its responsiveness on the important issue of unregulated dog and cat breeding," said Craig Daniell, chief executive officer of the BC SPCA, as part of the government release.

"This first step of adopting the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Codes into law lays an important groundwork for establishing a licensing and inspection program that we are pleased to be providing input on now."

In February, The BC SPCA called on the provincial to implement legislation that will require licensing and inspection of animal breeders, after 66 dogs were seized from a Langley, B.C. breeder.

with files from Catherine Rolfsen