Susie O’Brien ; From:Herald Sun ; September 20, 2011
The RSPCA and councils must have more authority if the Baillieu Government is to weed out puppy farms.
It is vital to have proper breeding conditions
The RSPCA and councils must have more authority if the Baillieu Government is to weed out puppy farms. It is vital to have proper breeding conditions
THE Baillieu Government should be congratulated for its commitment to shut down illegal puppy farms.
But why isn’t it trying to shut down all puppy farms?
There’s no such thing as a legitimate, safe puppy farm, or puppy factory.
There are about 70 Victorian registered dog-breeding establishments, many of which are puppy farms. This is 70 too many.
According to Animal Liberation Victoria, puppy-farm dogs are kept in cages solely for the purpose of churning out puppies to supply the ever-expanding pet-shop trade. From around six months of age, female dogs are subjected to a gruelling continual cycle of pregnancies, and they’re euthanased when they’re no longer able to breed.
Dogs aren’t allowed to mingle with other humans, they don’t get to play, and they don’t get the love and affection they desperately crave.
And, in most cases, puppies are often taken from their mothers at four or five weeks, and put on display in a sterile, noisy pet-shop window.
But puppy farmers are not the only ones to blame. If we really want to break their business model — where have I heard that before? — we must stop selling dogs and cats in pet stores. The RSPCA estimates that 95 per cent of dogs sold in pet shops are from backyard breeders or puppy farms.
Next time you walk past a pet shop in a shopping centre, don’t just stop and coo at the cute little balls of fluff in the window. Tell the owner that they shouldn’t be selling dogs and cats at all.
Stand and watch for a few minutes and you will see that a shop window is no place for a puppy or kitten to live. Young kids are continually tapping on the glass and upsetting the tiny animals. There’s often not enough water or room for exercise. What happens if they’re sad or lonely at night? There’s no one around to hear them cry.
I also dislike the way these stores contribute to pets being an impulse buy, like a new handbag, or a dress.
Buying an animal isn’t something you do after the movies on a Saturday afternoon because you feel like it. It’s a major commitment and should be treated as such.
So if the Government is serious about improving pet-breeding conditions, it must ban the sale of dogs and cats from suburban pet stores — particularly those located in major shopping centres.
This is just another example of Premier Ted Baillieu talking tough, but apparently doing little. His family has three dogs, so you’d think he’d be a little more concerned about puppy farms.
Last year, his government pledged to “close poorly operated puppy farms”, give the RSPCA more power and bring in stronger penalties.
I DO welcome stronger RSPCA powers, bigger fines of up to $30,000, and stronger codes of practice, but it’s still not going far enough.
The Premier’s media release from last year notes that “rogue” operators over-crowd animals, keep them in cages for a long period of time and give them insufficient water and food. So why allow any puppy farms if that’s what they’re like?
The picture painted by Animal Liberation Victoria is, admittedly, an extreme one. But even the RSPCA describes puppy farming as the “indiscriminate breeding of dogs on a large scale for the purposes of sale”.
A defining characteristic is the “often permanent confinement of dogs in barren cages, and forced continual breeding for the duration of the animals’ lives”, the RSPCA says. It’s no wonder that puppies raised in farms and sold through shops often have a range of psychological and behavioural issues because they haven’t been raised in a normal home-like environment.
They may also have a range of genetic problems because of the intensive-breeding practices, as well as in-bred health problems that can be very expensive to fix.
At present, councils have to ensure puppy farms only abide by a conveniently broad code for breeding establishments, which means there is great variation between council areas.
It also means councils don’t have the power they need to shut down or prohibit puppy farms in their local areas.
In July this year, a puppy-farm operator in Ballan wanted to establish a 100-dog development, against the wishes of both the local council and outraged locals.
But VCAT allowed the operators to establish a 50-dog farm, with a possible doubling of numbers if they are capable of caring for them.
No dog deserves to live and breed in a 100-dog farm, regardless of how clean or sanitary it might be.
There is no such thing as an acceptable puppy farm — they’re a cruel form of animal abuse that continues to be sanctioned by the Government.
Puppies should only be brought from licensed breeders or animal-welfare shelters.
If a cute little ball of fluff is what you’re after, there are a variety of reputable animal-rescue charities, such as Rescued With Love, which have lots of adorable retrained mutts waiting for a new home.
If you do buy through a shop, ask to see the pup’s parents and to see where the puppy was born. You should quickly be able to work out whether the dog came from a puppy farm or not.
Last weekend, more than 1000 people rallied for Oscar’s Law, which is a national campaign to end puppy farming.
I don’t expect everyone to be activists, but I would hope that any family with a beloved pooch would care about the existence of puppy farms.