RSPCA calls for boycott of pet shop puppies

The Age; Gary Tippet, July 11, 2010

HOW much is that doggie in the window? The RSPCA says too much, considering it is probably a bitzer cleverly marketed as a designer dog.

It has probably come off a puppy factory production line and could be prone to a range of costly health and behavioural problems.

About 95 per cent of all puppies sold in pet shops have been bred in puppy factories or farms – large-scale, intensive dog-breeding facilities – and almost half all pet dogs in Australia started their lives in such conditions, the RSPCA claims.

The animal welfare body is launching a national campaign from next week calling for a consumer boycott of puppies and dogs sold from pet stores.

It also wants the community to avoid buying dogs through the internet and newspaper ads.

Allie Jalbert, RSPCA Victoria animal shelters manager, said most people who chose puppies from shops would be horrified to realise they were inadvertently supporting commercial-scale puppy farming. Breeding animals were often kept for their whole lives in pens or cages where minimum standards required only enough room to stand, turn around and lie down. They did not require dogs be socialised, bathed or exercised.

”People need to be mindful of where these puppies are coming from and the horrible conditions in which they are farmed,” she said. ”We want people to make the choice, pretty much by refusing to buy from these places, to put the industry out of business. It’s about highlighting the truth behind these animals in the pet shop windows.

”The public can end this industry by refusing to support it. Every pet shop puppy that’s purchased perpetuates this industry.”

But RSPCA president Dr Hugh Wirth admits that might be asking a lot. Research shows that buying animals from pet shops is increasingly popular: in 2003, 17 per cent of animals were bought from shops; over the past 12 months that figure has risen to 53 per cent. More disturbingly, only 37 per cent of the community has concerns about animals being sold in pet shops.

”People are not interested in the background of their puppies, not initially,” said Dr Wirth. ”What they’re anxious about is what they see. This is heart overruling mind: ‘There’s a beautiful little puppy!’ … Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what the breed, all puppies are adorable – and that’s the most important factor, you are drawn to the puppy.

”It’s only later [they realise], when they have to come along to a vet like me and I’ve got to break the news to them of what’s wrong with that puppy.”

Ms Jalbert said vets and shelters were seeing constant problems with chronically ill or genetically flawed dogs from puppy factories. Lack of social interaction and handling and learned behaviour from mothers made fearful by constant confinement also led to behavioural problems later in a puppy’s life, she said.

”The consumer and the animals are the ones suffering while these people who run the factories are cashing in,” she said.

But Roger Perkins, CEO of the Pet Industry Association of Australia, disputed the RSPCA figures. There were about 3.7 million dogs in Australia, but only 10 per cent of dogs were sold through pet shops, he said.

”Nine in 10 people who buy a dog do not buy it from a pet shop, but from animal shelters such as the RSPCA or on the internet or from newspaper ads.”

Mr Perkins said many pet shops chose not to sell dogs or cats, but nonetheless they ”jolly well should” be allowed to.

”Our view is that it is a far more regulated way to purchase a pet than online or through newspaper ads.

”We support absolutely the RSPCA in terms of the abhorrent conditions in which some animals come out of puppy farms. Like anyone else with any humane interest in the welfare of animals, we abhor that situation,” he said.

”But there are plenty of very successful puppy farms that ethically breed animals in a controlled environment, where the welfare of the animal is extraordinarily well protected.

”But like any industry, there are some rogues and they’re the people we will not support.”

A spokesman for state Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said Victoria already had tough laws to regulate animal breeding and protect the welfare of animals, but the government understood concerns about puppy farms.

”We will consult with the RSPCA and local councils to review enforcement of existing legislation, review codes of practice, and investigate further measures to stamp out puppy farms and encourage responsible breeding,” he said.

The government had not ruled out looking at further controls on pet shop sale of animals.

To access original article, click here..

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6 Comments

Filed under Puppy Mills, RSPCA

6 responses to “RSPCA calls for boycott of pet shop puppies

  1. Jan Baker

    Oh yes Mr Perkins the PIAA would see it that way…they are making plenty of money out of products being sold to the pet industry …who cares about the figures only 10% sold to pet shops… how can you know that figure is correct…..we don’t care just STOP BACK YARD BREEDERS that is the ONLY solution…instead of talking about it DO IT! Consumers know nothing about where these dogs come from…unless you are around dogs or read up about dogs or belong to a DOG club then you are not in the picture at all…..the public does not see what is going on, why not have some more information & pictures showing where & how these animals are being treated in these horrible inhumane places…open the public’s eyes…show them how these puppies get to pet shops & how these back yard breeders are making lots of money by exploiting these dogs, keeping them in horrific conditions & not doing the right thing by them….Yes the consumer will go to the pet shop & buy a dog, as half of them don’t know where else to go….MANDATORY DE SEXING in Council Pounds….that’s a start…wipe out the back yard breeder, stop animals from being sold in pet shops. .I don’t think that this is a hard thing to do…as long as everybody worked together, instead of pointing the finger at someone else telling them that it is their responsibility…..it is OUR responsibility to help these dogs….for their sakes do something…don’t talk about it…..show the public what is going on behind closed doors…..these back yard breeders have to be wiped out…..but there are people in big industries that are making money….why would they want to stop these inhumane people from going ahead with their profitable businesses…..doesn’t matter about the dogs…..they are only dogs!!!!!!!!!

  2. Susie Hearder

    At last an article with the RSPCA saying how it really is.
    Minister Joe Helper says there are tough laws to regulate animal breeding and protect welfare of animals – then how come so many of these miserable dog concentration camps exist in Victoria and nothing is done about it. Think it is time that Joe Helper went and lived in one of these facilities just for a day and then he might actually do something to help.

  3. companionanimalnews

    Letter to Editor:
    Not enough
    THE RSPCA’s call for a consumer boycott of factory-farmed puppies and dogs (”RSPCA calls for boycott of pet shop puppies”, 11/7) is a good start, but it is not enough. Why isn’t the RSPCA insisting that the caging ”minimum standards” (that require only enough room to stand, turn and lie down) be changed to offer these animals a more natural life? Both consumers and voters need to be made aware that these abhorrent conditions aren’t restricted to their puppy purchases. Similarly, the RSPCA’s minimum standards allow for pigs and chickens to be cage-raised.

    P F, Altona

  4. companionanimalnews

    Letter to Editor:
    Guardians, not owners
    IF WE want to see a reduction in discarded dogs and cats, society needs to stop viewing them as ”possessions”. Eleven years ago, the American group In Defence of Animals started a campaign to have the term ”owner” replaced by ”guardian”, which more accurately describes the responsibility we have for the wellbeing and treatment of the animals in our care.

    Scores of American cities now use the term ”guardian” on tags, public park signs, veterinary and adoption forms, and animal companion-related publications.

    Residents are also asked to adopt and spay/neuter their animals and report abuse to the humane society or police. Why can’t we do this here?

    JM, Monbulk

  5. companionanimalnews

    Letter to Editor
    Bred to fail
    ROGER Perkins, CEO of the Pet Industry Association of Australia, can dispute the pet-shop puppy numbers all he likes, but there’s one fact he can’t dispute. He presides over an industry that sets up puppies for failure. Apart from the dubious sources from which pet shops obtain their animals and the associated cruelty and health issues, puppies sold through these channels often end up with behavioural problems when they are denied their normal needs during a critical stage of development.

    Pet shop puppies can grow into dogs with issues that unsuspecting owners find hard to manage, and so the once-cute puppies may end up headed for the pound to become a statistic. I’m a dog trainer and behaviourist. I also rehome dogs in pounds from death row. The Pet Industry Association needs to start acting responsibly and stop supporting the sale of animals in pet shops.

    JDT, Lower Templestowe

  6. companionanimalnews

    Letter to Editor:
    Conflicted interests
    AGRICULTURE Minister Joe Helper appears to have little interest in stopping abuses at puppy farms. As his title implies, his first priority is the sustainability of industries that profit from animals.

    It’s time the obvious conflict of interest ended and animal welfare was taken seriously by the government. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as well as all associated animal welfare acts, laws, regulations and codes of practice, need to be governed by a separate body. Otherwise the cruelty will continue.

    PC, Lower Templestowe

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