09/03/2013 04:38 EDT | Updated 11/03/2013 05:12 EST

Montreal SPCA seizes 100 dogs from South Shore puppy mill

The Montreal SPCA has seized more than 100 dogs from a large-scale commercial breeding operation on Montreal's South Shore.

The agency's director of animal advocacy, Alanna Devine, says the animals were being kept in unacceptable conditions, and many have health problems.

"Many of these mother dogs had likely been confined here for years, denied their most basic of needs," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, whose organization helped the SPCA with the seizure.

"The dogs were housed in barren metal cages and suffered from teeth and ear problems," Aldworth said in a news release. "The smell of ammonia was very strong."

The rescued dogs are small breeds, including chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers.

Quebec's agriculture ministry also helped with the seizure, at an unnamed location in the Monterégie.

The dogs have been transferred to the SPCA's headquarters in Montreal, where they are to be treated by veterinarians.

Last year, Quebec adopted Bill 51, a law beefing up its animal health protection act, aimed at putting an end to puppy mills in the province.

However, animal rights advocates complain that without more enforcement, commercial breeders continue to churn out puppies without regard to animal welfare.