02/18/2016 15:29 EST | Updated 02/18/2017 00:12 EST

New puppy mill law would give SPCA the 'teeth' to go after bad breeders

Animal advocates in B.C. and some politicians are advocating for legislation that would give the B.C. SPCA more teeth to rein in irresponsible pet breeders.

Two seizures of mistreated animals in the past two weeks have shed light on the deplorable conditions in which some animals are kept.

Jane Thornthwaite, the B.C. NDP MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour, introduced a private member's bill in 2012 that would have regulated breeding facility conditions, but it was never passed.

Now, she is trying again and this time she says she has the support of Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick, as well as a group of veterinarians and reputable breeders.

"What the regulations would do is give the SPCA the teeth to be able to come in and charge these unscrupulous breeders because the regulations are in place and they have essentially broken the law," said Thornthwaite.

They also want to create a breeder registry to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to purchasing animals.

"They've got to keep their ears and eyes open when they go to purchase a pet and be more scrupulous with regards to checking where that pet is being purchased," she said.

Thornthwaite says the government has been working on this bill for the past several months. 

Current laws

The current legislation, the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, only allows the SPCA to obtain a warrant if a member of the public complains about a breeder's unethical practices.

Thornthwaite hopes new legislation will allow the SPCA to make surprise visits to breeders to ensure they are following regulations.

She says the B.C. government provided the SPCA $5 million for infrastructure funding last year.