Metro/Bernice Pontanilla Carla Martinelli-Irvine says it was a mistake to suspend licensing requirements for breeders.

News the provincial government has without fanfare scraped requirements that Manitoba dog breeders be licensed has sparked worry at a local not-for-profit pet rescue shelter.

The province’s chief veterinarian officer, Dr. Wayne Lees, told CBC on Monday that his office temporarily suspended the program after having trouble with the quality of inspections by contracted-out inspectors.

Lees was not available for an interview Tuesday, but a spokesperson with the province confirmed the licensing has been suspended while a review is completed to make the program “more efficient and to improve the consistency of the inspection process”.

Carla Martinelli-Irvine, director of Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter told Metro the province should have instead levied fines against the contractor or found a different company to do inspections.

“It makes no sense to me that you would scrap the whole program just because you can’t find people to do inspections properly,” she said. “I think first and foremost should be the well being of animals.”

Martinelli-Irvine has been rescuing animals for 22-years and over that time her shelter has seen its fair share of animals that have been mistreated by breeders, and she worries about what might happen without oversight.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “There are a lot of backyard breeders in Manitoba… and I think it will just get worse because now there is zero accountability.”

Martinelli-Irvine advises anyone looking for a dog to first consider adopting from a no-kill shelter like Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter, but said those buying through a breeder should always insist on meeting the breeder at their property to see the conditions first hand, and always ask for a reference from the veterinarian who’s taken care of the dog.

“If they don’t want you on their property there’s a reason for that—they’re hiding something,” she said.

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