Open Letter to Canada’s Political Parties

Animal welfare is everyone’s business™

We applaud the animal and human welfare safety issues outlined in the three main political party platforms (Liberal, Conservative and NDP).  As the voice for the Canadian pet industry since 1988, we have spent the last 3 decades engaged in these issues. We truly appreciate your interest in this topic and how it ties directly with domestic violence. With over 1,500 members across the country, we are deeply invested in the wellbeing of all pets and their families. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC) offers our resources to move forward on important animal welfare matters.

We are proud to count the Crossroads Resource Centre and Women’s Shelter among our members and were delighted to offer all their staff our animal care programs at no cost when they became a pet friendly shelter to accommodate those many victims you speak of.  Animal welfare is everyone’s business is a principal that guides all our work.

PIJAC Canada is also collaborating with the Animal Food Bank (AFB), one of the few non-profit organizations in Canada that focuses on keeping loved pets with their owners. The AFB has seen first hand the impacts of pet guardians fleeing domestic violence, or other crises, and not only does the AFB step in to provide pet food support to them, but also implemented an emergency fostering program in an effort to fill that immediate need for pet guardians who need to enter a shelter system not equipped, and not funded, to support bringing their pet with them.  That is a secondary solution however, with the primary solution being providing the ability to shelters the animals.  In many instances their pets are a lifeline and source of comfort and safety and leaving without them means the pet guardian will not take a leap into improving their life circumstances.

“The Animal Food Bank advocates for and supports the positions of PIJAC Canada and are proud to work alongside them around these important initiatives.  It’s important to engage the organizations and businesses that support loved pets, vs organizations and laws that advocate for the removal of them, and that is absolutely what PIJAC is about.” – Nicole Wilks: Animal Food Bank

With respect to puppy mills we can make an immediate contribution by offering the definition of a puppy mill as developed by the National Companion Animal Council (NCAC).  This council is made up of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club, PIJAC Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection (CFIA) Agency as an observer.

The definition reads, A puppy mill is defined by the NCAC as a high-volume, sub-standard dog breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed breed dogs, to unsuspecting buyers. Some of the characteristics common to puppy mills are:

  1. a) Sub-standard health and/or environmental issues;
    b) Sub-standard animal care, treatment, and/or socialization;
    c) Sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders;
    d) Erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigrees, and/or genetic background.
    Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed establishments.

 Although well meaning, the patchwork of bylaws previously put in place in the name of animal welfare and the desire to ban puppy mills, has done nothing but demonize experienced pet shop owners and breeders, all while creating a thriving underground market of unregulated sources. A recent survey suggests that almost 900,000 Canadians welcomed a new pet into their home during the pandemic, of which 32% come from what could be considered questionable sources. In many municipalities it is currently against the law to purchase a dog or cat in a pet shop but there are no regulations about purchasing or adopting that same dog from the back of a mini van in a parking lot, online or from “Retail Rescues”, many unregulated, therefore if pets are no longer available in regulated and licensed establishments the 32% of questionable sources mentioned above is going to soar.

PIJAC Canada is committed to working with all stakeholders to raise the bar on animal well-being and preserving the precious bond between pets and their families.  We cannot support legislation that would drive the pet trade underground, nor can we support legislation that would end pet ownership as intended by the ideological position of many NGO’s

Our statement on the responsible sale of pets recently referenced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) If you’re thinking of buying or adopting a dog along with checklist built of questions to ask when considering a source for acquiring a pet from, entitled New Addition to the Family all of which is available on our website, speaks to the core of PIJAC Canada and of the pet industry’s commitment to promote the highest level of pet care through training, resources and advocacy.

There are also a number of sound research based resources on animal welfare recommend practices  such as the Perdue University’s, College of Veterinary Medicine, Canine Care nationwide breeder certification program for breeders.  We are very proud to say one of our longstanding members is the first dog breeder in Canada to participate in this voluntary but rigorous certification demonstrating the level of commitment of pet business owners in adhering to highest level of standards.

Concerning the animal trade, PIJAC Canada expresses the pet industry’s alarm at the use of the current pandemic to push calls for blanket bans on wildlife trade. We urge the leaders of the main political parties to resist calls for the elimination of the wildlife trade and instead to rely on sound science, good regulation and robust enforcement to prevent the spread of disease. An open letter to national and international bodies regarding NGO calls to end live animal trade in response to the covid 19 pandemic was sent to Dr. Jaspinder P. S. Komal, Vice-President, Science Branch, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Chief Veterinary Officer and OIE Delegate for Canada last April and we received the following response. We look forward to providing further input on this topic.

Wildlife is already heavily regulated with certificates required for international movement, however illegal trade does exist and does need to be stopped.  Effective enforcement of existing controls is key.  As a responsible member of the global pet industry we acknowledge the dual needs of advancing the sustainability of wildlife and tackling illegal trafficking.  We are proud to work with creditable groups in the battle to create stronger laws and increase enforcement across the globe.

Some of the current regulations clearly do not work. We at PIJAC Canada are committed to collaborating with all political parties for the advancement of animal well-being and keeping any victim of abuse and families together with their pets safely together.  Additionally, we propose working together to improve the regulation and enforcement of wildlife trade, with a focus on human health and animal welfare to minimize the risk of zoonotic transmissions and preserve biodiversity.

Respectfully,

Christine Carrière
President & CEO
PIJAC Canada