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Wellesley updates to kennel regulations set new standard for municipalities to follow

WELLESLEY — An updated dog kennel bylaw in Wellesley Township has become a model for a group seeking to hold other municipalities accountable ahead of the Oct. 24 election.

Over a year ago, Donna Power and the activist group Wellesley Against Puppy Mills began asking the council to update their kennel bylaws. Animal rights activists have long argued that without proper regulations, the mass breeding of dogs in inhumane conditions can thrive.

After months of considering possible changes, the board unveiled its updated bylaws late last year, using many of the best practices established by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

While Power and the board often clashed during the process, the board. Shelley Wagner has worked with Power to implement nearly 80% of Power’s recommendations.

“She was a big help going through the bylaw, calling out areas that she thought we could tighten up with different wording,” said Wagner, who is open about some of the challenges the board has had with it. Power and his group.

“We had issues with some of the tactics used on social media and the legitimacy of some of the claims, but recognized there was room for improvement.”

Power was specifically concerned about what happened to breeding dogs after they came of age. So the township made it mandatory for all dogs on the premises to be microchipped, and owners had to provide documentation showing the whereabouts of retired breeding dogs. This ensures that euthanasia, which is a concern for overcrowded puppy mills, is not an option for owners.

The updated regulations also limit kennels to a maximum of 35 breeding dogs and limit new kennels to 10 breeding dogs. Along with required facility updates, this helps prevent kennels from becoming overcrowded, which often leads to poor living conditions, easier spread of illnesses like kennel cough, and possible euthanasia for puppies that are not sold.

The regulations give existing kennels deadlines to comply with the new rules. A township kennel had 63 breeding dogs when the bylaw was enacted, for example, but agreed to limit its operation to 35 dogs within the five-year limit.

Since the regulations were implemented in late 2021, Wagner said kennel owners have all been on board. She said the updates make it clear the township takes kennels seriously and will ensure compliance.

“It’s been a long journey, let’s put it that way,” said Wagner, who worked in a veterinary practice for more than a decade early in his career. “We have been in this business for some time and have updated our kennel regulations a few times over the past 15 years. I think every township should do this and review their regulations as things change. Something you defined 20 years ago is most likely no longer up to date or relevant.

There has been a major shift in attitudes towards dogs over the past few decades, she said.

“You have a lot of people today who, to them, these pets are like their children. In fact, I think that’s probably the majority of people now,” she said. update the rules to reflect this.”

Although the Provincial Animal Welfare Service Act provides a framework for provincial inspectors to investigate poor conditions in kennels, municipalities can implement regulations to better standardize practices in their area.

The township by-law also gives local inspectors enforcement powers that would not otherwise exist.

“In the event of a conflict between the provincial Animal Protection Services Act and its regulations and a municipal by-law relating to the welfare or prevention of cruelty to animals, the provision that offers the greater protection to the animals prevails. said Brent Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

The province does not advise municipalities on the enactment of by-laws.

Following Wellesley’s success, Power contacted municipalities in Waterloo Region, Wellington County and Perth County to offer assistance in updating their kennel regulations.

“Municipalities in Ontario are the first line of defense for these animals, through their bylaws,” Power said. “And they really need to improve that safety net, because the provincial law just has too many holes to adequately protect these animals.”

Kennels can be big business, Power said, and owners have a strong incentive to save money.

A kennel with 35 dogs producing litters every eight months can earn nearly $750,000 a year by charging $2,200 per pup, she said. The more dogs a kennel has, she says, the more money it can make.

Power recently made a presentation to council in North Perth, which has 17 licensed kennels. He is currently awaiting the findings of a report he commissioned on kennel operations.

“Personally, I am in favor of modernizing our bylaw, which now seems a bit outdated,” said Mayor Todd Kasenberg. ‘I am confident the staff will present a useful report with suggestions for change and will consult with both the community and Ms Power’s group for further progress.’

Meanwhile, Power is trying to speak with as many councils as possible so the issue can be a priority for voters and new councilors after the Oct. 24 election.

“I certainly wouldn’t say I’m confident after Wellesley’s success, but it gives me hope that things can change,” Power said. “Each board is its own beast, but I’m willing to work with anyone.”

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