The Independent Weekly; Suzie Keen, Nov 20, 2010
Animal advocates want pet buyers to ask not how much is that doggie in the window, but where did that doggie come from?
The RSPCA estimates about 95 per cent of dogs sold in Australian pet shops are supplied by unscrupulous breeders, with pressure growing for an overhaul of SA’s laws to crack down on puppy factories.
The society and the Animal Law Committee of the SA Law Society want a compulsory registration and licensing system for both shops and breeders.
“Irresponsible commercial pet breeding is a major concern for the RSPCA SA,” said CEO Steve Lawrie. “There are also countless irresponsible backyard breeders in South Australia contributing to the over-population of animals in the community.”
Problems associated with puppy factories and backyard breeding can include over-breeding, in-breeding, poor health and behavioural problems, which often lead to the pets being dumped by their new owners.
Pressure from the RSPCA has led the State Government to review the SA Code of Practice for the Care and Management of Animals in the Pet Trade, but there are concerns it focuses mainly on the retail sale of puppies and does not extend to the regulation of breeding facilities.
In its submission on the review, the Animal Law Committee recommended it be extended to cover puppies bred by breeders or in puppy farms, and people who trade or breed animals from private premises.
Committee chair Joana Fuller said there was no other code regulating breeders.
“The real deficit in the current law is that the only way the RSPCA can prosecute is under the Animal Welfare Act … but it can only do that when it has information that animals are being mistreated, and how do they even know without a licensing system? There’s nothing to prevent animals being bred in terrible situations.”
Ms Fuller said backyard breeders who sold puppies through newspaper advertisements, the internet and pet shops were often undetectable. Many arrange to meet buyers at a neutral location to hand over the puppy.