A Maple Ridge veterinarian has started a petition advocating for more federal oversight for animals being sold online, following the deaths of dozens of dogs that arrived recently at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Dr. Adrian Walton, who works out of the Dewdney Animal Hospital, is hoping to pressure the federal government to stop the importation of dogs from puppy mills outside of Canada and to ban the sale of animals through online classified websites.
On June 13, more than 500 animals – a majority of them dogs – arrived in Toronto on a flight from Ukraine. There were 38 dogs reported found dead when they arrived at the airport.
They were shown being loaded into the airplane in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, in 38 degree Celsius weather, with multiple animals to a crate, explained Walton.
To top it off, he said, somebody decided to keep crates together using plastic wrap.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, that is investigating the incident, is responsible for the importation of animals – including dogs – into the country, in order to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases.
A permit is required for a commercial import of a dog that is younger than eight months old.
In a statement online, the agency said that all dogs imported into Canada, “must be healthy and fit to travel with no visible signs of illness when leaving their country of origin.”
Animals must also have the necessary vaccines and be accompanied by the necessary export documentation.
“Once CBSA, [Canada Border Services Agency], and/or CFIA staff confirm that import requirements, as per the Health of Animals Act and the Health of Animals Regulations have been met, the CFIA must release the animal(s) to the importer. CFIA has no mandate to be able to follow up on the condition of the animals once they have left the airport,” read the statement.
However, Walton said, the agency should have known about this flight three or four weeks beforehand, if permits for the animals were checked.
Walton believes this is not a one-off event and questions how many other flights are there with this amount of animals coming into the country in this condition.
Walton started the petition on last Friday, June 26 and it currently has 796 signatures from across the country.
It will be available to sign until 4:23 p.m. on Aug. 25, he explained.
Walton is hoping that online classified sites like Kijiji will seriously reconsider whether this is an appropriate platform for them to be selling animals.
“Are we in our attempt to rescue animals from foreign countries, in fact, contributing to puppy mills in foreign countries,” asked Walton.
“But, the mere fact that an entire airplane, commercial airplane, can be hired to transport 500 animals is an inication that there is something fundamentally wrong with how we, as Canadians, get our pets,” he said.