A petition to the Trudeau Liberals by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith aiming to end puppy mills was shot down earlier this year, making the O'Toole Conservatives the only party with a clear anti-puppy mill platform.
The petition, formally called E-2997 (Animals), was opened in December of last year and calls to "ban the operation of puppy mills in the entire country."
Specifically, the petition cites that:
• Animals in puppy mills are kept in cramped, filthy conditions with no opportunity for exercise, socialization or veterinary care;
• The living conditions for animals in a puppy mill include tiny wire or wooden cages, old tractor cabs, and the mother dogs being chained to trees;
• Mother dogs are repeatedly bred, spend their whole lives in these appalling living conditions and often suffer with debilitating eye, skin, ear, foot and other diseases;
• When mother dogs are unable to breed anymore they are discarded, and more than often killed; and
• Inbreeding is common in puppy mills, and the puppies are often sick and suffer with horrific genetic disorders.
In response to Erskine-Smith's petition, the Liberals wrote that while the government takes the issue of animal welfare "very seriously," that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) would end puppy mills "through education."
"The CFIA is responsible for regulating the importation of animals, including dogs, into Canada in order to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases that could negatively impact the health of both animals and humans. CFIA veterinarians administer and enforce the humane transport and import requirements at the border," the government response states.
It continues: "Canadian provinces have the primary responsibility for protecting the welfare of animals, including pets. All provinces and territories have laws with regard to animal welfare. Provincial and territorial legislation tends to be general in scope, covering a wide range of animal welfare and interests. Some provinces and territories have regulations that govern specific aspects of animal welfare or are related to certain species.
"In addition, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits anyone from willfully causing animals to suffer from neglect, pain, and injury. The Criminal Code is enforced by police services, provincial and territorial Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, and/or provincial and territorial ministries of agriculture."
While the Liberals have shot down the possibility of taking any direct action on puppy mills, the Conservatives announced plans to ban mills, as well as ending "abuse and violence against animals, and protect the humans who care for them."
In a statement released on Monday, the Opposition Conservative Party said: "During the pandemic, many Canadians opened up their homes to welcome a pet. In fact, over half of Canadian homes now have a pet and 90 per cent of Canadian pet owners see their pet as a family member. However, this trend has brought to light additional issues for animal welfare, including a surge in unethical breeding and animal abuse."
"We also know that there is a link between cruelty to animals and violence towards people," said O’Toole. "Canada’s Conservatives will add animal cruelty as an aggravating factor in domestic violence prosecutions to go after abusers who hurt their spouse by hurting their spouse’s pet. We will also support pet owners fleeing violence by working with shelters to ensure that there are better options for women to leave abusive homes without having to abandon their pets."
- Ban puppy mills and stop imports of animals bred inhumanely.
- Strengthen the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s ability to enforce current regulations and seize animals when imported under poor welfare conditions.
- Ban cosmetic testing on animals.
- Add animal cruelty as an aggravating factor in domestic violence prosecutions to go after abusers who hurt their spouse by hurting their pet.
- Support pet owners fleeing violence by working with the sector to ensure there are better options for women to leave abusive homes without having to abandon their pets.
- Provide $10 million a year to train judges and prosecutors on the links between violence against animals and violence against people.
- Work with the Council of Ministers of Education to promote animal welfare education as part of a child’s education on the environment and sustainability.
"As someone who is proud to call our dog Wexford not only a loyal companion and best friend, but a part of our family, I will work diligently to secure the future for our furry friends," O’Toole said.