Puppy mill bill introduced in B.C. legislature

A backbench B.C. Liberal MLA has introduced a bill that would protect animals from puppy and kitten mills.

Proposed law sets standards of care to be followed by cat and dog breeders

B.C. MLA Jane Thornthwaite hopes to put controls on puppy and kitten mills in the province. (thornethwaite.ca)

A B.C. Liberal backbencher has introduced a private member's bill aimed at protecting animals from puppy and kitten mills.

The bill, by North Vancouver MLA Jane Thornthwaite, includes specific protection requirements for dog and cat breeders in British Columbia.

The measure will ensure that breeders with three or more female dogs or cats are required to meet standards of care in handling and breeding of their animals.

Thornthwaite said that if passed, the new law would give the SPCA the ability to recommend criminal charges against unscrupulous breeders.

But she admitted that enforcement could be a challenge.

"Obviously we could always do more. I am hoping this bill will be a starting point. I am hoping this bill will increase public awareness, so that people, breeders will know what is expected of them, but also, prospective owners will know what is expected of the breeders to make sure that they have humanely raised animals."

Private member's bills are rarely passed by governments, but often influence future laws.

Thornthwaite said she's an active animal rights advocate who became consumed with puppy mills after the slaughter of 54 sled dogs in Whistler in 2010.

Last week, the Crown approved an animal cruelty charge against Robert Fawcett, the former general manager of Howling Dog Tours, in the deaths of the dogs.