ABC News; By Tracy Bowden for The 7.30 Report
Updated Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:18pm AEDT
The RSPCA says it is pushing for tougher licensing and better monitoring of puppy farms after a series of raids uncovering cruelty to animals.
In one raid on a property south of Sydney nearly 200 dogs were seized.
The puppy farm operator whose property is shown in the RSPCA footage to be aired tonight on ABC1’s 7.30 Report was fined a total of $155,000 and banned from owning animals for 10 years.
NSW RSPCA inspector Lisa Lindsay says the dogs were living in appalling conditions.
“The rooms where the puppies were were so overcrowded. There were dead puppies lying around just on cupboards, in with the mothers, the smell was unbelievable,” she said.
Ms Lindsay says strong demand for “designer mutts”, such as the cavoodle, labradoodle and spoodle, is fuelling the growing industry.
The RSPCA faces significant legal hurdles in trying to prosecute puppy farmers doing the wrong thing, and is calling on governments and responsible dog breeders to stop operations where dogs are treated as little more than profitable breeding machines.
In the worst cases dogs are kept in tiny cages with little human contact, developing physical as well as psychological problems. It is claimed that breeding females have back-to-back litters for five or six years, then are destroyed.
RSPCA Qld chief inspector Michael Pecic says the puppy industry is a lucrative trade which is extremely difficult to police, and it is growing.
“It’s a cash flow industry. They’re after the dollar sign and that’s what they see the animal as, just as a dollar sign and it’s the end product they’re concerned about,” he said.
But the Hams family, which operates Banksia Park Puppies east of Melbourne, allowed the 7.30 Report to film at its property, stressing that not all big breeders do the wrong thing.
Matt Hams says he is happy with the way dogs are treated on his farm.
“[But] like any industry that’s not heavily regulated, there’s that room there for someone to come along and make a quick dollar, and due to lack of community education people don’t know where their pups come from,” he said.
Animal Liberationist Debra Tranter has taken the law into her own hands, trespassing onto a series of puppy farms in an effort to expose cruelty.
She says no matter what the conditions, mass breeding of dogs is wrong.
“I think the entire industry is a problem. I don’t think we should be factory farming companion animals,” she said.
“We’re killing so many dogs in pounds and shelters we certainly don’t need to be breeding any more on such a massive scale.”
ABC1 will tonight broadcast an investigation into the lucrative puppy breeding trade on the 7.30 Report.
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