Where is the regulation on puppy farms?

The Age, Heather Neil, August 8 2010

Consider the real underdogs in this election.

Every election begins as a race to become the campaign’s self-declared underdog, as to whether this gives any party a psychological upper-hand is yet to be determined. In our eyes there is only one underdog, in the true sense of the term.

This underdog has four legs and a tail. She is used as a breeding machine and her offspring are sold to satisfy demand for cute puppies in the pet retail market. This underdog is one of thousands bred indiscriminately in Australia’s puppy farm industry.

Think of a battery cage, put a dog in there and that’s essentially what I’m talking about. Puppy farmers will sell to anyone – through pet shops, online, through newspapers, at markets and even out of car boots. The advent of internet sales has fueled this industry.

Fixing the problem is an uphill battle for the RSPCA because no matter how inappropriate we find these establishments, the law by and large allows them to operate. This is the great irony of being the RSPCA. Our inspectors spend their days enforcing laws that we rarely think go far enough to adequately protect the health and welfare of breeding dogs or their puppies.

One of our more recent cases near Sydney really knocked the wind out of everyone who attended. The stench from this puppy farm was so overwhelming that we had to bring in industrial-sized fans and wear breathing equipment. The ammonia build was so great it literally left you breathless – yet animals were living and breeding in these conditions for their entire lives. One dog was in a cardboard box with a number of puppies dead around her. She still had a pup lodged in her birth canal and had been in labour for more than six hours. Two other pups had been tied together with electrical cable, one of them suffocated to death. Perched on a cluttered cabinet above was a malnourished cat and her newborn kittens. These creatures were destined for the pet retail market where they were being sold to an unsuspecting public — 190 were rescued, many were pregnant and sadly, some were beyond saving.

It would be nice to be able to say that this seizure was an isolated incident. But the puppy farming industry is booming and is one of the greatest animal welfare challenges the RSPCA faces. Politically it should be an easy sell and it is actually a relatively easy fix. We need enforceable regulation of the breeding and selling of dogs. We need local governments to make puppy breeders meet high standards and enforce these standards properly. We need the Commonwealth to tighten up export provisions for the sale of dogs overseas and for the Australian Tax Office to report suspected puppy farmers.

We are a nation of dog lovers and this election gives us another chance to show it. Make your vote count for the real underdogs this election by becoming a Political Animal and ask your local federal representatives to do the same.

Heather Neil is chief executive of RSPCA Australia.

To access original article, click here..



Filed under Animal cruelty, Pet shops, Puppy Mills, RSPCA

6 responses to “Where is the regulation on puppy farms?

  1. companionanimalnews

    Comment on Age website:
    Well said Heather. Nothing gets my anger up to such a teeth-clenching level. It’s absolutely criminal that this is allowed to happen, and with the imprimateur of both major parties.

    Clover Moore’s Bill, which would have brought an end to most of these farms was voted down by both Labor and the Coalition. Why? Because the pet shop industry convinced them it was “anti-business”.

    The dead puppies and kitten to which Heather refers are not even included in the numbers – 250,000 healthy dogs are euthanased each and every year in Australia simply because they aren’t wanted. That’s 5,000 a week.

    We need a national moratorium on all dog and cat breeding for at least a year. These animals should not be mere commodities to buy and sell. There MUST be a change in legislation whereby all pet owners MUST be licenced and be able to show their ability and skill to look after an animal. I am sick to the stomach at the attitude of many pet owners who neglect, mistreat and discard these poor dogs and cats.

    The penalties for this cruelty must also be quadrupled. I would have no hesitation in throwing animal abusers into a cell with Ivan Milat. These are the lowest of the low.


  2. companionanimalnews

    Comment on Age website:
    This is why no one should ever buy a dog from a petshop.

    Buying direct from breeders allows the purchaser to know where the dog is coming from, find out some of the history of the breeder as well as comments from others who have purchased from that breeder.

    W, Sydney

  3. companionanimalnews

    Comment on Age website:
    It is great that after more than a decade of campaigning by animal rights groups the RSPCA has decided to get on board the pet stores issue and address the problems of puppy mills. But it’s sad that it has taken this long, and sadder still that RSPCA is drawing the line at improving welfare standards rather than demanding all such animals be removed from pet stores. To do so would eliminate the impulse purchasing which leads to unwanted animals, and restricting sales to desexed individuals (except for those going to registered breeders) must also be a part of this plan if we want to reduce the number of healthy dogs which are killed in our shelters. Estimates suggest 300 or so meet this fate every day.

    Shame they don’t want to apply similar standards to other species. While RSPCA vocally supports “cage free” eggs, they are in a business relationship with australia’s largest battery egg producer, PACE FARMS. While they profit from eggs coming from PACE barns, it is difficult to see them getting behind policies like those enacted in Europe which will legislate the removal of all hens from battery cages.

    Heather, I guess the lesson here is people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. If you want to tidy up the puppy industry, you should also put the same efforts into reducing these same cruelties in the egg and pork industries. Just because puppies are cute and cuddly isn’t a good enough reason to demand special treatment over other species used and abused in Australian farming industries.

    AA, Melbourne

  4. companionanimalnews

    Comment on Age website:

    The dialogue we need to have in this country about treatment of animals is long overdue. We take people to court for torturing pets, yet the most horrendous cruelty is happening every day on farms across the country and is perfectly legal. We need to decide as a society how much suffering, if any, we are prepared to make animals go through in the name of profit. But we also need to do something about the ongoing slaughter of our native wildlife which also causes extreme pain and suffering. 440,000 pouch joeys beheaded or beaten to death annually after theit mothers are killed for meat. On farms pigs kept in pens that would be like us being confined to an airline seat for life. In China animals are literally skinned alive to provide fur for the clothing and pet toy industries. Live animal export knowing that their end will be excrutiating. ‘Research’ going on in universities that makes me wonder how on earth students can be so utterly callous to inflict the pain and suffering on helpless animals. We don’t need to continue to do these things. There are alternatives and we need to understand that animals are sentient beings who feel pain, fear, love, just as we do. The more we find out about animals the less we can differentiate them from us. Our behaviour towards what can and can’t be done to animals is schizophrenic to say the least. If it’s not OK for some moron to torture a puppy, then neither should it be OK to do despicable things to animals in the agriculture, puppy farming, research and so on. They feel pain just the same as the ones who end up in court.


  5. companionanimalnews

    Comment on Age website:

    No business should be allowed to carry on which involves the exploitation of sentient beings. I don’t care how much money is lost, we cannot encourage this abuse and violence inflicted on non-human animals.

    The answer is so simple. Shut down petshops and all avenues of trafficking and making money off these poor beings. There are more than sufficient non-human animals available at shelters if people wish to rescue and nurture one who has been abandoned. If someone needs a “designer” breed from a pet-shop that is an indication that they will not be a good owner anyway as they are focusing on the aesthetic value rather than the joy of taking care of another family member.


  6. Jan Baker

    Yes we have heard it all before….yet still nothing has been done to stop these puppy farmers, until that happens there will be no end to the suffering of these dogs in puppy mills…..the all mighty dollar is more important to these people than to worry about how these dogs suffer…..CLOSE every puppy farm down…not just one but ALL…..stop people from exploiting these animals ….let us all work together ..the RSPCA, Animal Welfare, Rescues, Councils….but most of all the Government!! They are the ones that we have to work on to get a bill passed to stop all this suffering in these horrible puppy mills. But there are too many people involved in this Industry who are making a lot of money…..

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