Que­bec moves to pro­tect more an­i­mal species

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - MORGAN LOWRIE

MON­TREAL The Que­bec gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to ex­pand the scope of its an­i­mal wel­fare leg­is­la­tion to of­fer in­creased pro­tec­tion to species rang­ing from horses and mink to os­triches and wild tur­keys.

The draft reg­u­la­tion pub­lished this week would re­quire fox and mink farms and sta­bles with 15 or more horses to meet the same wel­fare stan­dards as dog and cat breed­ing op­er­a­tions.

Un­der the pro­posed rules, own­ers of these farms and sta­bles would have to ob­tain a per­mit from the Agri­cul­ture De­part­ment and sub­mit to reg­u­lar in­spec­tions. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion also out­lines care stan­dards that would ap­ply to dozens of other species in­clud­ing bi­son, deer, boar, os­triches, wild tur­keys and some species of fish.

Peo­ple rais­ing these an­i­mals would not need a per­mit, but they would have to re­spect rules con­cern­ing clean­li­ness, liv­ing space, safety, and ac­cess to food and wa­ter.

They would also have to fol­low pro­ce­dures to iso­late an­i­mals that are sick or giv­ing birth.

In an im­pact anal­y­sis pub­lished along with the rules, the Agri­cul­ture De­part­ment said it is mov­ing to strengthen its 2015 leg­is­la­tion based on grow­ing pub­lic con­cern over an­i­mal wel­fare.

“In a gen­eral man­ner, cit­i­zens and an­i­mal pro­tec­tion asso­ciations con­stantly ex­press their wor­ries in re­gard to the well-be­ing and safety of an­i­mals,” the doc­u­ment reads.

“This is re­flected in par­tic­u­lar by a large num­ber of com­plaints on the sub­ject of an­i­mal wel­fare to the

The big­gest weak­ness is that it still ex­cludes many species, for ex­am­ple all farm an­i­mals and even some pets.

de­part­ment as well as ini­tia­tives by an­i­mal pro­tec­tion groups.”

The de­part­ment re­ceived 5,610 calls from cit­i­zens on its an­i­mal wel­fare hot­line be­tween April 2017 and Fe­bru­ary 2018, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment. It re­ceived an av­er­age of 205 com­plaints a year re­gard­ing horses be­tween 2013 and 2016.

The pro­posed rules would af­fect an es­ti­mated 1,200 busi­nesses, with com­pli­ance cost­ing a to­tal of up to $3.3 mil­lion in the first year and drop­ping to $300,000 there­after.

Yo­han Dal­laire-Boily, an Agri­cul­ture De­part­ment spokesman, said the new per­mit sys­tem would al­low in­spec­tors to bet­ter track sta­bles and fur farms to en­sure the rules are re­spected.

Fur­ther­more, he said, the gen­eral wel­fare stan­dards would help other species by giv­ing in­spec­tors more au­thor­ity to de­mand im­prove­ments from neg­li­gent own­ers.

“Now that the bi­son, for ex­am­ple, is added, even if we don’t in­spect or have a per­mit, we have more abil­ity to force things to change if we find a breed­ing op­er­a­tion that isn’t in re­spectable con­di­tion.”

The Mon­treal SPCA’s di­rec­tor of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy said that while the pro­posed rules are a step in the right direc­tion, they don’t go far enough. “The big­gest weak­ness is that it still ex­cludes many species, for ex­am­ple all farm an­i­mals and even some pets,” such as pot-bel­lied pigs, So­phie Gail­lard said.

Gail­lard said she’s also dis­ap­pointed that the gov­ern­ment didn’t move to ban round-the­clock chain­ing of dogs, place lim­its on the num­ber of an­i­mals that can be used for breed­ing or in­clude stronger pro­vi­sions to pro­tect psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing.

Dal­laire-Boily said the new rules wouldn’t ap­ply to farm an­i­mals, such as dairy cat­tle or lay­ing hens, be­cause they are cov­ered un­der other leg­is­la­tion.

The draft reg­u­la­tion is cur­rently un­der study, and is open for com­ments un­til Feb. 22.

The Cana­dian Press

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