Lawyers say there is a lack of oversight, but officials say inspections are underway
Tensions are high in Wellesley Township, with animal rights activists and activists calling on the council to increase inspections.
The activist group Wellesley Against Puppy Mills (WAPM) made several demands from the council listed in an online petition with more than 39,000 signatures, nearly four times the township’s population.
âWe ask the Council to demonstrate its commitment by placing a 10-year hiatus on the approval of any additional kennels; limit the number of breeding dogs allowed in each kennel; limit breeding cycles to one per year and impose a retirement age of 6 with a humane succession plan for all breeding dogs; and to increase kennel inspections for regulatory compliance from one year to quarterly with a third party inspector. We ask the Board to review the current kennel regulations and make the necessary changes to align with the industry standard: âA Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operationsâ written by the Canadian Veterinary Association. “
Currently, each of the 23 kennels is inspected annually by the one and only Regulatory Officer.
This was concerning for WAPM, which filed complaints against two different kennels in the township of the province. The group claimed to have sent two of its members to take photos and videos of the dogs at the facilities, which they said were in distress and overcrowded.
The province says an inspection has been carried out and the case has been closed. This kennel refused an interview. The other still hasn’t been completed, and the licensed kennel owner was unaware he was arriving when contacted by 570 NEWS.
The Township of Wellesley has requested the results of these inspections for their own information, according to Township Mayor Joe Nowak.
“We want more details on the inspections to see if there are any gaps that we can fill, maybe they have recommendations,” Nowak said, also noting that the council is revising its bylaws on the subject of kennels, and that will include consideration of WAPM’s suggestions. He said the township municipal officer estimated that the township’s licensed kennels produce around 2,000 puppies per year.
Nowak also expressed frustration at WAPM’s tactics, saying some of their claims were not supported by evidence.
“We keep asking these activists – and I’m going to say the word ‘activists’, because that is what they are – to let us know, to tell us when they have proof that a puppy mill exists. in the township. They never did, they never did. They went directly to the media, so I think that’s an indication of what they’re trying to accomplish here. “
According to Greg Glass, speaking to the media is the only way the group can get the council’s attention.
An advocate for the group, Glass says provincial legislation meant to protect animal welfare is not working, with many holes that have not been filled since its introduction in January 2020.
“If you find yourself in a situation where there is a puppy mill, or a cat mill, or if there is a farm with many horses that are neglected, mistreated, in distress, and an inspector comes in over there, if you don’t have a facility to take those animals, to take them out because they’re in distress, you’ve got a pretty tough situation to deal with, âGlass said. “Where the OSPCA and the Humane Society before the takeover of the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) had this infrastructure.”
This is not the only obstacle facing animal welfare workers in the province, with response times being of particular concern to the KW Humane Society.
âRight now, and it’s not so much the law, but the province has so few inspectors to look after animal welfare that often they just don’t have not the manpower to intervene in a timely manner, âsaid Managing Director Kathrin Delutis. Delutis noted that this is of particular concern when it comes to animals left in hot vehicles, and a Good Samaritan is likely to be more likely to call the police.
“Of course, we know the police are also strapped for time and resources. So that’s where we often see a gap is who answers calls in a timely manner?”
Of Wellesley’s 23 kennels, Mayor Nowak said 21 are active, and many of them are below the absolute maximum of 35 breeding animals.
As to whether 23 is too much, Nowak said the alternative would not get rid of the demand.
“So let’s just say all of a sudden there isn’t a licensed kennel anymore. Where are people going to get their puppies? There is a huge demand for puppies right now, isn’t there? just take things underground and open them up for this criminal element to come in and provide them? â
The township municipal officer will conduct a follow-up site inspection after the provincial inspector has made his visits.