Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick takes questions Monday.

B.C. moves to require dog and cat breeder licences

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to target commercial breeders, seeks to prevent puppy mills from operating

The B.C. government has moved to require licensing or registration of pet breeders, billed as a crackdown on “puppy mills” that mistreat animals bred for sale.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick introduced legislation Monday that would authorize an external agency, probably the SPCA, to regulate breeding of dogs and cats. The agency’s inspectors would be able to apply for a warrant to enter a residence and inspect it for violations of B.C.’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The legislation should concentrate on commercial animal breeders, not “hobby breeders,” said Catharine King, a North Vancouver breeder of standard poodles, who attended an announcement at the B.C. legislature with her local MLA Jane Thornthwaite.

Letnick wouldn’t say how the restrictions may define a licensing requirement, or when the regulations could be ready to put in place. That will be determined with more consultation with breeders, the SPCA and others, he said.

“We’ll consult on the regulations as to who’s included and who’s not,” Letnick said. “Currently the plan is to look more at the registration piece than the licensing piece. That will be a first step in getting everyone registered who are producing dogs and cats.”

Last year, Premier Christy Clark backed a bid by Thornthwaite to bring in regulations. Letnick said the intent of the legislation is to prevent situations like a Langley puppy mill raided by the SPCA in February 2016, where 66 puppies and adult dogs were seized from cramped, stacked cages in dark and unheated buildings.