Dogs die while politicians ignore their plight as election heats up

    MONTREAL, March 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Nicole Joncas, director of Teja's
Animal Refuge, has filed a lawsuit against the Minister of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food, claiming that the Quebec government is not enforcing the
Animal Health Protection Act against operators of puppy mills in the province.
The lawsuit also names Anima-Quebec, a non-profit organization responsible for
carrying out the inspection and enforcement provisions of the legislation.
    The lawsuit is the latest effort in a two-year struggle by Ms. Joncas to
have a puppy mill in her neighbourhood closed down. According to Joncas,
hundreds of animals have died at this mill located about 65 kilometres west of
Montreal. Joncas repeatedly contacted local authorities and Anima-Quebec with
evidence of animal suffering within the mill. She also provided a videotape
which showed dogs living in cramped and filthy conditions, dead puppies from a
new litter left to decompose in a cage, the incinerated remains of several
dogs in a furnace, and a decapitated German shepherd puppy. Despite her
efforts, no action was taken by Anima-Quebec to shut down the facility or
rescue the animals.
    Ms. Joncas' situation is not unique. Animal rescue organizations
throughout Quebec are frustrated with the province's reputation as the puppy
mill capital of Canada. As noted by Professor Wendy Adams, who teaches a
course on animal law at the Faculty of Law at McGill University, "Quebec has
arguably the strongest animal welfare legislation in Canada, but its record of
enforcement is one of the worst. Whether it's the Liberals or the Parti
Quebecois in power, no one seems interested in having this legislation
    As for the chances of success, Professor Adams thinks that the law is on
the animals' side. "Governments need flexibility in making enforcement
decisions, but at a certain point you have to ask, when is a law not a law? I
think Teja's Animal Refuge has a strong case here, and people are going to be
shocked when they see the condition in which these animals are forced to live
and allowed to die."
    Ms. Joncas hopes her lawsuit will send a strong message to whichever
party wins the election that the government needs to honour its obligations.
"Mahatma Gandhi once said 'the greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the ways its animals are treated." With this lawsuit, we're
asking the Quebec government, what kind of nation are we?"

    Teja's Animal Refuge is located on 100 acres in Glen Robertson, Ontario,
about 8 kms from the Quebec border. Ms. Joncas started rescuing animals in
1995, beginning with one horse, six dogs and two cats. Today she looks after
more than 60 rescued animals; horses, steers, goats, dogs, cats, pot-bellied
pigs, ducks, hens, Winston the rooster, resident skunks and raccoons.

    Video footage is available of the conditions inside the mill, as well as

For further information:

For further information: Wendy Adams, Faculty of Law, McGill University,
(514) 398-3192

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