Changes to Manitoba's Animal Care Act were proposed at the Manitoba Legislature Thursday.

The proposed new laws would include higher fines for the mistreatment of animals, stronger licensing requirements for pet breeders, and expanding inspection and enforcement provisions.

The legislation was introduced by Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk.

The proposed changes include:

  • developing a public registry of licensed pet breeders that would allow the public to easily locate reputable breeders prior to purchasing a family pet
  • requiring pet stores to be licensed including provisions that would require stores to keep records of the breeders from whom they purchase their pets
  • requiring veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal neglect or abuse
  • giving the chief veterinary officer authority to issue orders that would require owners to take action to relieve an animal in distress or to carry out their duties under the act toward their animals
  • providing expanded powers to enter and inspect premises
  • providing animal protection officials with specific authority to take abandoned animals into custody including animals left behind in rental properties, animals not retrieved from kennels and other temporary caregivers, and animals that are apparently ownerless
  • increasing the maximum penalties for offences to $10,000 from $5,000 for a first offence and to $20,000 from $10,000 for a second or subsequent offence, and the maximum term of imprisonment to 12 months from six months for a second offence
  • increasing the limitation period for prosecution of offences under the act to two years from six months
  • implementing restrictions, as part of new licensing requirements, on the number of animals a breeder may have, based on individual breeding facilities.

In June, nearly 100 dogs were rescued from a puppy farm in Warren.

Many of the dogs were found with open wounds, large tumors, and severe eye or ear infections. Barbed wire was also found embedded in their fur, and wrapped around their paws.

The province gets about 800 complaints of animal abuse every year, although many are unfounded. Charges are laid in only a handful of cases.

With a report from CTV's Jon Hendricks.