Rossland's Sarah Heyer of House of Paws is hoping to raise awareness and encourages residents to help put a stop to puppy mills and pet abuse across the country.

West Kootenay pet shop owner petitions for end to pet mills

“Our companion animal laws are pretty lax right now, we need to bring more awareness to help SPCA”

A Rossland pet store owner is raising awareness and asking for action in protecting pets.

Sarah Heyer, proprietor of House of Paws Pet Boutique, encourages residents to go online and throw their support behind a petition that would make puppy mills illegal in Canada as well as impose more stringent regulations on companion pets.

“I think with what happened at Spirit of the North kennels this would be a great time to get this message out to the wonderful people in our area,” said Heyer. “A lot of them are outraged but don’t know how to help and I think this would be the first step.”

The BC SPCA reports that animal protection officers visited Spirit of the North Kennels in Salmo on Feb. 16, where 40 sled dogs were taken into custody after it was determined they were suffering from inadequate shelter, hypothermia and suspected dehydration.

“Our companion animal laws are pretty lax right now,” said Heyer. “We need to bring a little bit more awareness to helping the SPCA, because right now if the dogs’ basic needs are not being met they can’t do anything, and dogs need so much more than just their basic needs.”

Similarly, puppy mills are large operations where sellers breed a wide variety of canines in unhealthy and unsanitary conditions. These breeders pose as reputable sellers in an attempt to make a quick buck from unsuspecting people who are in the market for a pet.

While Heyer doesn’t know of any large scale operations in the Greater Trail area, she has noted people taking advantage of their pets in other ways.

“I know there are people that just think, ‘My dog is not fixed, maybe I can make a couple hundred bucks out of it,’” she said. “And then they have these puppies, I don’t think they really care what happens to them.

“We’re pretty lucky that there’s not a huge pet mill industry, but there’s definitely backyard breeders around.”

The petition, started by Margaret McCullough of Victoria, asks the government to put a stop to puppy mills.

The petition outlines the debilitating and abusive nature of puppy mills and the often horrific results of inbreeding and repeat breeding.

“We have this petition that people can sign so they can help and have their voice be heard. They can also take the letter and mail it to their MP to bring further awareness, and just talking to people helps by bringing the issue to the forefront.”

Sarah recommends that anyone looking for a new pet, should take a few minutes to check that it is a reputable breeder or a commercial breeding operation. A good breeder cares about their dogs and the homes they’re sending them to, says Heyer.

“They want what’s best for their dogs, they care what kind of homes their dogs go to, they are going to ask the right kind of questions,” added Sarah. “If you go somewhere and they don’t ask you questions about your yard, or what you plan on doing with the dog while you’re at work, or similar questions, then they don’t have their heart invested in the puppies.”

Visit House of Paws online at

To access the petition go to and search for e-2997.

Read: B.C. SPCA seizes sled dogs from Salmo kennel

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