A pet supply company is calling for the federal government to investigate the sale of its pet products in Canada.
In a letter to the minister, the Humane Society of Canada says the deal with Guangdong PetCare is part of a pattern of unethical dealings by pet supply companies.
In an email, spokesperson Andrea Macdonald said the organization has raised concerns with the government, but that the pet supply industry has so far been largely silent on the issue.
“The pet industry has been left out of the discussions,” Macdonald wrote.
“We are calling for a full and independent investigation of this sale to ensure the integrity of the pet trade and ensure that this kind of unethical behaviour is not tolerated by our industry.”
The deal with pet supply giant Guangdang PetCare has been described as a “bounty for pet owners” and says the proceeds will go to a fund that will “build and promote humane education and training programs” for its employees.
It will also “support and promote sustainable pet supply practices and industry-wide best practices for the pet sector.”
The company is currently the only one of its kind in the world.
According to Macdonald, it is part-owned by the Guangdongs sovereign wealth fund, which owns about 90 per cent of PetCare.
The government of Canada is expected to approve the deal, and it will be subject to approval by the Federal Court.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Development said PetCare would be given “a full and detailed investigation” before it can make any decision.
“If there are any concerns, we will be in touch with them and will take appropriate action,” he said.
The Humane Society says the Chinese government has made an “inappropriate profit-sharing” arrangement with PetCare since its inception.
The group also says the pet-supply industry “is not transparent about the terms of the agreement.”
“The Humane Society’s concerns are legitimate and we hope to hear more from the government on this matter in the near future,” Macdon said.
In January, the company announced it had raised $8.5 million in venture capital funding, which has been earmarked for “humanitarian and education-related initiatives” in Canada, China and abroad.
“Petcare has been a leader in the pet food market in Canada and around the world and we are proud to be one of the largest producers in the country,” said Matthew McGehee, CEO of Guangdans PetCare Group.
“Our team has been in the industry for decades, helping customers find the best quality pet foods and supplements for their pets, and we believe that this partnership with Petcare is an important part of our company’s long-term strategy.”
The PetCare logo is shown in this undated photo provided by Guangdings PetCare Ltd.
(Supplied: Guangdens PetCare) A spokesperson for the government of Ontario said they have no comment on the letter.
Macdonald is a former spokesperson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and said she had never worked for a pet supply business before coming to the Humane League.
Macdon previously worked for the Ontario NDP government.
“I was shocked and dismayed to learn that a pet food company would engage in such unethical business practices,” MacDon said in the email.
“It is not surprising to me that there are concerns raised about this deal.
However, the government has an obligation to ensure that the animal welfare and health of animals is protected.”
MacDon also noted that the Canadian Pet Industry is lobbying the federal minister for a ban on pet supplies that have been imported into the country.
“For the last 20 years, the pet companies that supply pet foods have been doing this, and yet they’re doing it in Canada,” she said.
“They’re doing this in Ontario, in British Columbia, in Alberta, and they’re taking advantage of Canada’s animal welfare laws, and that’s not right.”
In the letter to PetCare, the HSUS asks that the federal authorities investigate the deal and if there is a violation of animal welfare regulations.
“There is no question that the PetCare deal breaches animal welfare requirements and breaches the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which protects the welfare of animals, and the International Labour Organization, which requires fair and humane treatment of workers,” the letter said.
MacDon called the sale “another example of a corporate welfare scheme that has been going on for decades in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.”
The Humane League is also calling for an investigation into the pet supplies industry.
“Many of these companies have been in business for decades and it’s time to hold them accountable,” said Heather Bickley, executive director of the Humane Societies Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“This is yet another example of an unethical business model that’s been around for decades.”