Plea for better kennel bylaws brought to North Perth council

·4 min read

NORTH PERTH – The organization Ontario Puppy Mills – Stop This Now conducted a delegation at North Perth’s council meeting on Sept. 19.

Members of the group, Donna Power and Karen Thompson-Harry, brought forth the issues concerning dog breeding kennels licensed in North Perth and the current kennel bylaws. The group works within the counties of Perth, Huron, Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin, and Grey. North Perth and the surrounding area has been deemed “puppy mill central” by the group. There are currently 17 licensed kennels in the county and a multitude more unlicensed mills in the municipality that are unregistered.

“This municipality is quite literally rolling out the red carpet to unethical dog breeding operations. While public pressure mounts to stop puppy mills, North Perth continues to offer a safe haven so unethical breeders can continue their inhumane trade unchallenged,” Power stated in her letter and delegation to council.

Puppy mills are operations that factory breed large numbers of dogs, with the sole purpose of making money. They are unethical breeders who prioritize the quantity of animals over their health. Costs associated with the mill are kept to a minimum and there is a lack of space, vetting, human or canine interaction, food and enrichment. These breeders often sell to ‘brokers,’ who are individuals that sell these puppies to the unsuspecting public. The buyers are not told the origin of the puppy and often receive a sick animal.

“Never before has Ontario had so many puppies show up with deadly and highly contagious viruses, like parvo and distemper,” Power explains.

There is an increasing demand being put upon civic leaders to provide legislation and stronger municipal bylaws to ensure standards of care for animals and provide protection. Currently, North Perth has a list of standards of care, used only once, at the time of kennel license issuance. It was stated that North Perth has weak kennel bylaws and what can be done is to improve standards of care via these bylaws as well as introduce greater oversight and enforcement.

“You, the municipal government, [are] the first line of defense. I am sad to say this council has failed to protect the consumer, the reputation of this wonderful community and most importantly, the animals whose lives are in your hands,” Power said to council.

Karen Thompson-Harry, a retired lawyer, illustrated that North Perth is “a community where you can operate a puppy mill with no consequence; where you can breed dogs with little to no municipal oversight or consequence or accountability.”

The third edition of the Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, released by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association in 2018, was updated to “mirror the changing values towards animals that have emerged over the past decade. Dogs are now recognized by the public and by some legislative bodies as sentient beings that have the capacity to feel, perceive, and experience. This recognition has influenced the way people interact with dogs and the standard of care expected to be provided for them, whether a dog’s role is that of family member, working dog, or a dog kept for breeding and show.”

“The leadership of North Perth, i.e. the local elected officials, have the power to change the reputation from a community that does not prioritize the health and wellbeing of not only the dogs, but the people and families that buy these puppies, or the vets who treat these puppies/dogs to a community that not only has compassion for all living creatures but takes steps to protect those that cannot protect themselves,” stated Thompson-Harry in her letter to council.

From animal welfare advocates reports, the boundary between north of Highway 401, west of Highway 400, south of Georgian Bay and east of Lake Huron, there are over 125 puppy mills. Unfortunately, there are many underground operations that are not included within this number.

Further, puppy mills are a non-taxable business. The average income for a puppy mill breeder is between $800,000 and $1.2 million, which is solely tax-free profit.

Council brought forth the resolution at the previous meeting, that directed municipal staff to explore these issues more thoroughly. The council valued the input and presentation from Power and Thompson-Harry.

Shelters are at capacity due to abandoned dogs, there is an overbreeding and unethical breeding of dogs, and the dogs being bought are sick and dying.

“We’re at a crisis in Ontario,” ended Power.

Melissa Dunphy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner