Editorial ; From:Sunday Herald Sun ; October 23, 2011
SOME might dismiss the Baillieu Government’s “claws laws” as another example of nanny state legislation tightening the grip of big government on every aspect of our lives.
There’s no doubting the legislation to be introduced in State Parliament this week is tough. As revealed in today’s Sunday Herald Sun, it cracks down on puppy farms and more broadly increases pet regulation.
As Premier Ted Baillieu tells this newspaper: “We are not going to tolerate cruelty to animals.”
Central to the legislation is a strengthening of laws to help shut illegal puppy farms, which have been the target of a long-running animal rights campaign by protesters who believe they are cruel.
Illegal puppy farmers face fines of up to $146,000, jail terms of up to 10 years and decade-long bans on being involved in the breeding industry.
And in a controversial change that appears to place illegal puppy-farm operators in the same category as drug manufacturers and traffickers, authorities will be able to confiscate their assets, including land and homes. These will be sold, with the proceeds helping to bankroll animal-welfare programs.
The Government says it doesn’t know how many illegal puppy farms operate in Victoria. But clearly, it is reacting to a groundswell of community concern about the issue. There are 64 legal operators in the state.
To enforce these new laws, the RSPCA and council inspectors will be given greater powers to raid suspect puppy farms and seize and relocate animals.
The changes don’t stop at dogs, with other changes set to tighten regulation of pet cats. Currently, dog and cat buyers carry the burden of ensuring their pets are microchipped. Under the “claws laws”, pet shops and private sellers will carry the burden.
The Government concedes the impact of all this regulation may increase the price of pets, but they clearly believe the average Victorian family will be willing to accept that to improve animal.