It’s just come out that Manitoba has dropped its licensing requirements for breeding dogs. CBC reports that the office of the chief veterinarian officer is too busy to take on licensing, and since there have been issues with contracting the work out, the requirement was quietly dropped last year. This is despite, or perhaps because of amendments to the Animal Care Act, intended to get tougher on backyard breeders applying inhumane living standards for the breeding dogs and their puppies. More oversight means more work which means, apparently, it’s easier just to throw the whole thing out without telling anyone.
Although the suspension of the requirement of a license to breed is supposed to be temporary, no word yet on exactly how long this temporary field day for unscrupulous breeders is going to last. Bad breeders are one half of an equation that leads to mistreated and homeless dogs, and shelters have evinced reasonable concern. Frankly, it seems to me that if the province wants to take an extreme solution to a logistical and bureaucratic problem by allowing all breeders, they might have done better by the animals they’re supposed to protect and gone entirely the opposite way: refuse to allow any breeders whatsoever. Anyone who makes money producing animals when an overpopulated animal population is already responsible for widespread homelessness is hardly in the corner of animal welfare.
That’s not very likely, however, and I recognize that, at least until everyone internalizes the message to adopt instead of buying, eliminating the worst of the breeders and maintaining minimal standards for the rest is a minimal stopgap. One of my dogs was rescued from a puppy mill bad enough to have been shut down, and he still bears the psychological scars of his mistreatment.
What can we do? Well, the most effective way to shut down puppy mills for good is to refuse to buy from breeders — period. That’s a long-term battle, however, and won’t be enough until an overwhelming majority of dog owners are on board. Keep spreading the word, but we can’t call it a day with that. We can put pressure on the provincial government to get their act together and get back on those licensing requirements, for those who will not adopt. Contact information for the office of the chief veterinarian can be found here, and a few thousand emails might go a long way (Dr. Wayne Lees is the one you want). You can also sign the petition at the bottom of this article.
Also, recognize that just because the licensing requirement has been dropped doesn’t mean animal welfare laws no longer apply. It means if you hear about a place where animals are being mistreated, you need to be even more vigilant about reporting it, since no one from the government is actively checking up on them, or even knows that a given breeding operation exists. With any luck, we’ll see the provincial government back to regulating these operations as intended by the Animal Care Act, and sooner rather than later, but until then, mistreated dogs (not to mention any other animal) will be particularly relying on vigilant neighbours, customers, delivery people, et cetera.
And, oh, yes. We’re probably looking at a surge in the population of homeless dogs in the near future. So consider becoming a monthly donor to the Winnipeg Humane Society and other Manitoba shelters. They could always use more help covering medical treatments, kibble and all the other things they provide for the abandoned dogs we can thank these breeders for.
Photo credit: Thinkstock