The Advertiser, Kylie Hanson, July 13 2011
THOUSANDS of Australian-bred designer puppies are being sold to the lucrative Asian market as the internet fuels demand.
Many end up in pet shops or spend their lives as breeding dogs, often in horrific conditions, animal welfare authorities say, The Advertiser reports.
Commercial breeders are free to use the internet to sell dogs overseas, with no requirements to desex or microchip them first – meaning they cannot be traced once they leave Australian shores.
Puppies eight weeks old – some feared even younger – are being packed in crates and transported by road and then on long, stressful overseas flights.
Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Hawaii are importing significant numbers of designer pups, with labradoodles, cavoodles, spoodles and other cross-breeds seen as status symbols.
Australian puppies are in demand because there are relatively few disease issues, such as rabies, so they do not have to endure long quarantines.
Figures from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service show 5400 dog-export permits were granted last year, up from 4800 in 2009.
The RSPCA is investigating the export market as part of its campaign against puppy farms.
Most export puppies are supplied by commercial mass-breeding operations.
“It is a real growth market, and smaller, designer-breed dogs are seen as a status symbol in some countries,” said RSPCA manager of animal services Allie Jalbert.
“They are shipped all over the world and it is a lucrative market. When we inspect puppy farms the owners often tell us they are shipping around Australia and overseas.
“As Australia is a large, Western country close to Asia, we are a source to that growth market as wealth builds there.
“Most are sourced from local puppy farms where there are mass breeding facilities and puppies are cranked out for profit. They are a battery farm for puppies and the facilities are poor to mediocre. `Debarking’ often happens to control noise.”
RSPCA analysis shows pups are sent to Hong Kong, China, Japan, Indonesia and the US.
Figures from Singapore’s Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority show Singapore imported more than 1300 dogs from Australia last year with the number averaging 1000-2000 each year.
Glenys Oogjes, of Animals Australia, said the trade had been going since the early 1990s. “Many have been going to Asia – historically Hong Kong and China,” she said.
Australian Veterinary Authority immediate past president Dr Mark Lawrie said there was a boom in places such as Korea and India.