The Mercury; Helen Kempton; Jan 4, 2011
ANIMAL welfare advocates want the State Government to regulate puppy farming and squeeze out unethical backyard dog breeders through new legislation.
Dogs’ Home of Tasmania president Geoff Clarke said a mandatory licensing system and a restriction on how many puppies could be bred per breeder would help address over-breeding and animal abandonment issues.
“As a society, we can no longer accept that thousands of animals in need of homes are being euthanased while profit-driven breeders continue to churn out puppies,” Mr Clarke said yesterday.
The RSPCA has also launched a major national anti puppy-farming campaign and the society supports the push for change in Tasmania.
“We are not opposed to people getting a particular breed of dog but we are opposed to how dogs are intensively bred,” RSPCA Tasmania acting CEO Michael Linke said.
“Puppy farms are like battery hen farms, and some of the worst examples have been closed down in other states.
“If breeders are doing the right thing they should not be afraid of new legislation.”
Other states are already working on new legislation to regulate the dog-breeding sector.
A new breeder identification system has been proposed in Queensland and mandatory licensing of cat and dog breeders is being considered in the ACT.
Most of the puppies bred intensively end up in pet shops or are sold to online buyers.
“Conditions for dogs in these facilities have been found to be lacking and not conducive to producing healthy, well-adjusted animals,” Mr Clarke said.
Some bitches are kept in cramped conditions in a constantly pregnant or lactating state to keep up with buyer demand.
“Even if the health and wellbeing of puppies could be guaranteed, puppy farms are currently mass-producing puppies for a market which cannot absorb them,” Mr Clarke said.
RSPCA Tasmania president Brett Steele said inspectors had found backyard breeding operations in Tasmania where dogs were kept in poor hygienic conditions and with inadequate housing.
“Irresponsible breeding can result in an increased rate of inheritable disorders through lack of genetic diversity,” Mr Steele said.
Mr Steele said the Tasmanian dog market was saturated resulting in excess dogs being surrendered to animal welfare groups. More than 20 per cent of the dogs which end up with Dogs’ Home of Tasmania are put down.
Mr Clarke said the aim was to cut euthanasia rates to less than 10 per cent but the organisation would struggle to do that if irresponsible breeders continued to flood the market.
“I urge people to adopt a dog rather than provide a market for puppy farmers.”
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