Animal welfare: a Lévis kennel wipes out insults and threats

It’s hellsays Laurent Caouette. We didn’t expect that at all. We don’t really understand what is going on.

The kennel located in Lévis was plunged into turmoil when activist Shay Lee posted on social media a video shot at the kennel at the end of the summer. We see hundreds of dogs barking, attached to their kennels. Some are accompanied by flasks of mud. One scene appears to show a battle between two animals. The images also show bowls containing greenish water.

A photo, taken September 17 by an activist, shows a bucket of greenish water near a doghouse.

Photo: Shay Lee

Photos of a bloodied dog have also been published. According to our information, they were taken by former employees of the company. The animal would have suffered injuries after a battle with a congener.

An injured husky dog

Former employees of the kennel La Poursuite photographed an injured dog.

Photo: Courtesy

Laurent Caouette claims that these images are presented out of context. The dirty water bowls weren’t meant for animals, he said. The bloodied dog was injured several years ago, and has since been treated. He assures that his approximately 200 animals are well cared for.

He indicates that he is acting in accordance with the regulations imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ). MAPAQ. S’ils ont des recommandations pour nous, on va [les] suivre”,”text”:”On fait notre possible pour les chiens. On n’est pas parfaits. Il y a toujours place à l’amélioration, mais nous, on suit les règlements qui nous sont imposés par le MAPAQ. S’ils ont des recommandations pour nous, on va [les] suivre”}}”>We make it impossible for the dogs. We’re not perfect. There is always room for improvement, but we follow the regulations imposed on us by the MAPAQ. If they have any recommendations for us, we’ll [les] followemphasizes Laurent Caouette.

No veterinary follow-up

Or, sources who know the company from having assumed it or having worked there say that there is not necessarily no veterinary follow-up for the dogs of La Poursuite. One person claims that puppies were often born blind due to infection. This same person says that it was common to find dead puppies in the morning. The proximity of the necessary kennels also ensures that fights and injuries are frequent.

A puddle of muddy, greenish water surrounded by a doghouse from the La Poursuite kennel.

A puddle of muddy, greenish water surrounded by a doghouse from the La Poursuite kennel.

Photo: Shay Lee

Laurent Caouette affirms that he is completely wrong to say that animals are regularly found dead. He admits that the kennel once suffered an outbreak of canine parvovirus, a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus, but the disease has been eradicated.

The owner would like to benefit more often from the services of a veterinarian, but he pleads that these are often unavailable.

If someone could find us a veterinarian who comes to our house twice a week… it’s not a question of money. We would take it tomorrow morning. »

A quote from Laurent Caouette, co-owner of La Poursuite

Several visits, but no sanction

Radio-Canada was able to consult 36 complaints concerning La Poursuite addressed to the MAPAQ between 2014 and 2020 as well as 14 inspection reports written during the same period. Only two notices of non-compliance were given to the owners, in particular because of the presence of a sick dog.

A dog's bones are visible under its fur.

The presence of a sick and thin dog led the MAPAQ to issue a notice of non-compliance to the La Poursuite kennel in November 2017.

Photo: MAPAQ

We confirm that the file is known to our inspection service and that interventions under the Animal Welfare and Safety Act have taken place in recent months.indicates the ministry, which did not wish to comment further on the file.

Verification made, the company has never been fined.

Most of the complaints consulted relate to the living conditions of the dogs. Suspects point out that the animals are chained to a barrel which serves as their niche, that they sometimes have their feet in the mud and that they do not have access to water and food at all times. A person says shocked to see these living conditions.

In the vast majority of these complaints, the MAPAQ did not find any problematic situation during the inspection. Some elements of the complaint do not constitute an offenseconcluding the inspectors on several occasions.

Images disturbing

The president of the Order of Veterinarians of Quebec is worrying. He qualifies as disturbing footage filmed by Shay Lee. Even if he admits that he cannot make a detailed diagnosis without being there, Gaston Rioux believes that the living conditions of the dogs do not seem adequate.

From what I can see, dogs tied up 24 hours a day is not really an expression of normal behavior for an animal. »

A quote from Gaston Rioux, President of the Order of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec

He adds that the proximity of the animals to each other could be a source of stress. The food, consisting in particular of chicken carcasses, carries in his opinion risks of poisoning and internal injuries, due to the size of the poultry bones.

Gaston Rioux.

The president of the Order of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec, Gaston Rioux

Photo: Radio-Canada

According to our information, the images also raised eyebrows in the Quebec sled dog community. Rémy Leduc, vice-president for the organization Mushers and canine athletes of Quebec, does not hide his disappointment. However, he believes that the images should be interpreted with caution.

I always look at these things with a bit of suspicion. There are groups of activists who will make false complaints in order to succeed in harming the development of the sport, because they are against dog teams. »

A quote from Rémy Leduc, vice-president of Mushers and Canine Athletes of Quebec

La Poursuite is the second controversial kennel in a matter of days. Last week, Radio-Canada revealed that the Mi-Loup company, on Île d’Orléans, canceled the MAPAQ sanctions before its owners were charged with animal cruelty.

The president of the Order of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec challenges the Ministry.

MAPAQ de s’assurer qu’il y ait le personnel, donc les ressources humaines et les ressources financières nécessaires, pour bien répondre aux signalements du public”,”text”:”[On] demande au MAPAQ de s’assurer qu’il y ait le personnel, donc les ressources humaines et les ressources financières nécessaires, pour bien répondre aux signalements du public”}}”>[On] ask the MAPAQ to ensure that there are the personnel, and therefore the human resources and the financial resources necessary, to properly respond to reports from the publiclaunches Gaston Rioux.

An activity to be better supervised?

Discussions are underway in Quebec to better regulate dog sledding activities. Currently, companies that want to offer rides only need a pet sitter’s license to operate. They are not required to meet quality standards, other than animal welfare laws and regulations.

This discipline is called an orphan discipline, since we realize that there is no sports federation that oversees all these canine harness sports.notes François Porcherel, member of the committee of experts on dog sledding for Aventure écotourisme Québec (AEQ).

L’AEQ awards accreditations to ecotourism and outdoor businesses that meet its quality and safety standards. Of its members, 30 are sled dog kennels. A dozen standards of theAEQ precisely require the working conditions of sled dogs.

MAPAQ, il veut être complémentaire”,”text”:”Aventure écotourisme Québec ne veut pas empiéter sur le travail du MAPAQ, il veut être complémentaire”}}”>Aventure écotourisme Québec does not want to encroach on the work of the MAPAQhe wants to be complementaryspecifies François Porcherel.

A team of sled dogs.

The La Poursuite kennel offers dog sledding all winter long.

Photo: Facebook/The Pursuit

The organization Mushers and Canine Athletes of Quebec wants to go further by providing certification solely for dog sledding companies. This tool allows customers to identify kennels that provide good living conditions for their animals.

It would then be up to the consumer to do his duty to ensure that the company in which he is going to live the activity is accredited by our federation. It would also be up to the people in the tourist industry, the hoteliers, who affiliate themselves with companies of this kind, to ensure that the companies are also affiliated with our federationexplains Rémy Leduc.

Laurent Caouette, he has no illusions. He believes dog sledding will remain a controversial activity. Despite everything, the La Poursuite kennel still intends to offer sleigh rides this winter.

Our goal is to continuehe said.

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