Premier joins fight to shut down puppy farm

Vic: Geelong Advertiser, Jeff Whalley; February 27th, 2010

PREMIER John Brumby yesterday joined the chorus of disgust over a notorious puppy farm near Anakie.

As Mr Brumby said he was “distressed” about the animals’ plight, the RSPCA backed Moorabool Shire’s bid to shut down the farm.

“I, like all Victorians, was very distressed to read the claims of the mistreatment of these puppies,” Mr Brumby said, while visiting Geelong.

“Upon reading the Geelong Advertiser’s story, the Agriculture Minister’s office got in contact with Moorabool Shire yesterday to ensure the council has the support it needs to take action on this matter.”

The shire will plead its case in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Monday.

A damning shire rangers’ report revealed some dogs had been left to die on the end of chains, lacking shelter or water.

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The report said 59 dogs were being kept on the Beremboke property, owned by Les and Melinda Paxton.

Some dogs did not have clean water and many were kept in cramped cages littered with faeces, the report said.

The shire used the report to reject the Paxtons’ retrospective application to keep 30 dogs on the property.

It is believed State Government lawyers are working over the weekend with Moorabool Shire staff to confront the Paxtons at VCAT on Monday in a bid to take away the dogs.

It is understood the Paxton’s could face the full force of the law, including being fined for failing to register as a domestic animal business and additional fines of up to $1000 for every unregistered dog.

Animal Liberation Victoria secretly visited the property on Monday to film the dogs’ plight and sent photographs to the Geelong Advertiser.

The RSPCA has since joined a chorus of voices calling for an end to the suffering.

Victorian president Maria Mercurio yesterday revealed she had personally called Moorabool Shire to see how her organisation could assist in shutting down the farm.

“I got off the teleconference an hour ago. My opening line was how can we assist to close down this puppy farm? It is our common objective,” Ms Mercurio said.

“They made it clear to me that it was their intention and I was pleased to hear that resolve.”

Ms Mercurio said inspectors visited the property again on Thursday and were concerned about welfare of animals but found no breaches of the law under which they could prosecute for abuse.

“The law is very specific about criminal offences. It carries a very high burden of proof,” she said.

Ms Mercurio said a State Government review of animal protection laws was ongoing and said it could lead to a tightening of restrictions.

Mr Brumby yesterday pulled back from saying that laws needed to be strengthened to deal with rogue puppy farms.

“Victoria has strong laws in place to protect animal welfare and council together with the RSPCA are equipped with the appropriate powers to prosecute alleged breaches of these laws,” he said.

The Paxtons have repeatedly refused to respond to questions from the Geelong Advertiser.

To access original article and read the public comments, click here..

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