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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —
P.E.I. CARES, a new organization in Charlottetown, is hoping to change legislation and raise awareness about unethical dog breeding on the Island.
The group was founded by Karla Shalley and Amanda Jackson and began operating on Feb. 14, but due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Saturday marked its first event: a spot at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market where they worked to engage with the public.
When people think of unethical dog breeding, they imagine stacked cages and blatant physical abuse, but there are other considerations, too, said Karla Shalley, one of the groups’ founders.
“Unethical can be there’s no contracts or bitches can be bred as many times as they want – every heat. As long as you’ve got money, you can get a puppy, you know?”
P.E.I. CARES (Canine Advocacy Resource Education Society) primary goal is education. To that end, its table at the Farmers’ Market had a sign with some true or false questions, as a way for Shalley and volunteer Debbie Reid to engage people and to start a conversation.
For two UPEI veterinary students, the conversation came with two big surprises.
“I didn’t realize that no breeders had to be licensed here,” said Allison Kiker. “I would at least think if you sold so many puppies in a year, there would need to be some sort of regulations.”
And although breeders are not required to be licensed, unlicensed dogs, if lost and impounded, can be killed after five days if unclaimed according to the Dog Act, section 15(1).
“It’s definitely not a positive feeling (learning this). I wish that they would have to be registered because if they’re just trying to do it for money, then dog’s welfare isn’t anything positive,” said another student, Rachel Friedland, who added she now wants to try to get her school involved.
Requiring licenses for breeders is one of the main goals for legislative change P.E.I. CARES wants to see, said Shalley.
“Hairdressers need a license and people who breed dogs don’t.”
Ways to recognize a responsible breeder:
- The dogs are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or other registry recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
- At least the mother is present at the kennel.
- Parents are tested for hereditary health problems related to the breed.
- Dogs are mated at the end of their growth and females are not mated every heat.
- The breeder chooses families carefully and asks questions about the home.
- The puppy will have received all necessary health care before being homed.
- The breeder gets a contract signed, detailing the conditions of the sale.
- Puppies never leave the kennel before eight weeks, with 10-12 weeks being even better, especially for small breeds.
- The breeder sends the puppy’s registration no later than six months after the date of sale.
Source: P.E.I. CARES Facebook page (taken from the Union des éleveurs canins du Québec)
While not against ethical breeders, the group recommends adopting whenever possible.
On P.E.I., this can be difficult as there are few dogs to adopt, but there’s definitely a demand when looking at sites like Kijiji, where there were more ads looking for dogs than ads offering them, she said.
“When there’s a demand for it, we want to give people the option of adoption, so they don’t have to go to Kijiji.”
Before moving to the Island in 2018, Shalley ran a kennel and rescue operation in British Columbia. She estimates she rescued between 75-100 dogs from kill-shelters in the United States
Outside of P.E.I. CARES, she has been trying to open a similar business on the Island, but hasn’t been able to find a suitable location.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have continued to lessen, the group is able to get out to meet people and spread awareness, as they did on Saturday.
P.E.I. CARES will also be at the Farmers’ Market on Sept. 5 to change more minds, said Shalley.
“We understand that everyone’s got their own opinion and we’re not going to change everybody’s opinion, but we just would like to educate people so they know.”
For more information, click here.