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Pet protection on the way, Quebec says

June 2nd, 2002, 10:06 AM
Pet protection on the way, Quebec says

Montreal Gazette

Friday, May 31, 2002

Quebec is about to get a brand new Protect-that-Pooch squad.

Agriculture Minister Maxime Arseneau announced yesterday that the government will provide an initial $150,000 in start-up costs for Anima-Qu»bec, a non-profit organization charged with setting and enforcing animal-care guidelines across the province.

Arseneau said animals are too often raised without regard to health and hygiene and Quebec needs standards.

The advantage is that when they buy puppies, "pet owners will know that their animals have been well treated."

Department officials were a little vague yesterday on exactly what the regulations will be since Anima-Qu»bec still has to make its recommendations to the minister, but the system's foundations should be laid within six months.

Anima-Qu»bec will include representatives of veterinarian associations, SPCA branches and the agriculture department.

Pierre Barnoti, executive director of the Montreal SPCA, who will be on the Anima-Qu»bec committee, acknowledged that Quebec is behind many jurisdictions when it comes to animal welfare. The group will have its work cut out for it, especially when it comes to finding regular funding, he said.

"It's a good day for animals and animal lovers, but it's only a first step," he told reporters. "We're going to start naming inspectors. How many? Two, three, five, 10? In Ontario there are 347."

Jim Pollock, director of communications for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said his organization has an annual budget of $10 million to pay for its inspectors and other programs, which it raises almost completely through corporate and private donations.

Serge Mass», manager of the Alexis Nihon branch of the Nature Centres d'Animaux store, said he welcomes having inspectors keep tabs on the industry. He hopes it will help drive unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills out of business.

Buying a pet can sometimes be a little like getting a used car, he said. It can look fine at the dealership but turn out to be a lemon when you get it home.

"Dogs that come from puppy mills often have hygiene problems, they're sick, have skin diseases. It's very aggravating for a customer to buy a dog they think is healthy and then find out it's sick."

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