Animal welfare advocates are accusing the Quebec government of not moving fast enough to save dozens of red foxes and thousands of minks they say are living in inhumane conditions at a fur farm outside of Montreal.
Officials are refusing to rescue about 80 foxes in distress from Jean-Luc Rodier’s fur farm in Montérégie south of Montreal while about 10,000 minks are also suffering a number of health problems, according to the Montreal SPCA and the Humane Society International/Canada.
“Multiple inspections by the MFFP in recent weeks have revealed that the foxes are in critical condition and suffer from serious health problems including dehydration, emaciation, toe fractures, tail injuries, tooth fractures, ear and eye infections, internal bleeding and neurological issues. Further, the condition of these foxes has been steadily deteriorating,” the groups said Friday in a joint release.
The SPCA obtained a warrant to inspect the farm last May after receiving a complaint of animal cruelty. Members were horrified by what they saw. Several foxes needed to be euthanized on the spot. Government inspectors looked into the matter in July. And the groups returned on Aug. 4. The animals had deteriorated since earlier visits and 16 arctic foxes were seized because the owners didn’t have a permit to keep that particular species.
Veterinarian Sherri Cox, who assessed the foxes along with the province, said the animals need immediate medical care and need to be removed.
“I am deeply concerned by the level of illness and injury I observed in the foxes on this farm. It is apparent that the foxes are not receiving veterinary care for their injuries and illnesses. I am also alarmed by the lack of basic care such as access to clean water and food. Their housing is unsanitary and harmful to them,” she said in a statement.
An American wildlife rehabilitation expert, Lynn Miller, also inspected the farm said she has never seen animals housed in such dreadful conditions: “These foxes are in a horrible state, from severe medical issues to obvious signs of psychological distress. These animals are in need of urgent veterinary care – without it, many of them will likely soon die.”
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada, said her group and its partners are willing to help in the removal of animals and remains “astounded” the province isn’t stepping in.
“By leaving the foxes on this property, the Quebec government is condemning these animals to a horrible fate while sending a clear message that animal abuse is tolerated in this province,” she said in a statement.
The groups have started a petition to force the government to act and bring in new legislation to better protect animals.
Alanna Devine, director of the Montreal SPCA, said existing rules are being enforced while they also exempt fur farmers from permit rules giving them essentially a “free-pass to do whatever they wish with their animals.”
Dr. Guylaine Seguin, a provincial veterinarian, told the Toronto Sun that the farm owner has met urgent requests to water the animals, clean the cages and provide veterinary care: “As of (Wednesday) I can confirm that everything is resolved.”
According to CBC, the fur farm’s owner, Jean-Luc Rodier, has faced similar accusations in the past. In 1996, he faced 262 charges of cruelty to animals and negligence and eventually was found guilty to 32 counts of negligence. The other charges were dismissed. He has not responded to requests for media interviews.