The Age, Carmel Egan, Nov 30, 2008
ANIMAL rights activists are calling for the Federal Government to close a loophole that allows thousands of Australian puppies to be sold to Asian pet farms to be used as breeders.
Unlike other live animal exports, companion animals such as cats and dogs are exempt from export declarations. As a result, authorities have no record of whether the animals are exported for private or commercial reasons.
Responsibility falls to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, which ensures only that animal exports comply with the import restrictions of the country of destination.
“AQIS is only enforcing importing rules, not our rules,” said RSPCA president Dr Hugh Wirth. “At the moment we have no breakdown of puppies being consigned to pet shops or brokers or puppy farms and those which are going to be reunited with their owners.
“Quite simply the law has to change and pets should come under the normal export requirements for animals.”
This would mean authorities would know exact numbers of animals being exported, and where and why they were shipped.
Tens of thousands of puppies born in intensive breeding farms in Victoria have been exported to Singapore and Hong Kong. According to the quarantine and inspection service, 10,400 dogs — both companion and commercial animals — were exported in the 2007-08 financial year.
Australian dogs are popular because there is no need for quarantine in many countries, including Singapore, and because they have not been exposed to rabies.
But the puppies can have different fates, according to Singapore-based animal rights campaigners.
“Many puppies (some as young as two months) are imported to be sold in pet shops and pet farms,”
said animal campaigner Hwee Li.
“Those that are not sold are very likely kept for breeding. We all know what living conditions are like in pet farms, especially for these poor dogs being used as breeding machines.”
According to Mr Hwee, many puppies imported from Australia develop health problems as they age.
Common complaints include skin problems, hip dysplasia in bigger dogs, and heart, liver and kidney problems.
Many pets are abandoned and, according to the Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, purebred animals including Jack Russells, shih-tzus and Maltese are increasingly being dumped.
To compound the problem, Singapore’s public housing rules do not allow dogs that weigh more than 10 kilograms or are more than 30 centimetres high at the shoulder to live in government-owned flats.
An animal purchased in good faith who grows too large, barks or is unruly is likely to be abandoned.
November 30, 2008 , The Age