Perth Now; National features; Catherine Chatfield; Oct 24 2011
AS the push to abolish puppy factories gains momentum, find out who’s taking the fight to the top.
Protesters and their pooches were out in force at a recent Sydney rally to support a ban on puppy factories and the introduction of better licensing laws for breeders. Barks rang out in approval of the speakers as they made their plea to the government.
Oscar’s Law aims to abolish puppy factory-farming and the selling of dogs in pet shops. At the very least, organisers believe success will come from enabling consumers to make informed choices.
In the crowd was Sydney Lord Mayor and Independent MP Clover Moore, who’s a firm believer in the campaign: “I’ve been concerned about this for more than 10 years,” she says. “Australia considers itself a country that loves and cares for animals, yet it permits immense cruelty and suffering in the name of profit.”
In 2008, Moore proposed a bill banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops and limiting classified sales to responsible breeders, but it wasn’t passed. Determined to keep fighting for the cause, she’s now calling for an inquiry into companion animal welfare, which parliament will vote on in the next few months.
Meanwhile, a NSW Government task force looking at the issues of companion animal ownership and euthanasia will release its recommendations next year.
“Australia breeds around 400,000 puppies each year,” says Tim Vasudeva, CEO of the Animal Welfare League NSW, who spoke at the rally. “But 100,000 dogs are put down each year. If we can get rid of the unethical breeders by introducing licensing and encouraging people to adopt from shelters, we can reduce both sides of that equation.”
The AWL NSW plans to propose a registration scheme under which all breeders will be inspected by an independent body such as the RSPCA or AWL. “It should be illegal to become a breeder without a licence,” explains Vasudeva. “There must be annual inspections to ensure they’re worthy of a licence, and it should be illegal to advertise or transfer a pet without quoting a breeding ID.”
Until such laws exist, it’s important to push for change locally.
“The RSPCA and AWL have limited ability to remove animals unless there’s evidence of extreme cruelty,” he says. “It’s up to councils to enforce regulations.”
So if you plan to buy a pet, do it the right way: “Go to a rescue shelter or pound. If you do buy from a breeder, do your research first, then visit the premises and ask to meet the puppy’s parents, so you know they’re well cared for.”
MEET GORDON …
He looks adorable now, but Gordon had a tough start. At five weeks’ old, the maltese/shih tzu cross was bought by Vasudeva ( Tim Vasudeva – CEO AWL NSW) via an ad on TradingPost.com.au to show the standard of pets sold online.
“He was couriered to me in a cardboard wine box with holes punched in the sides with a pen so he could breathe,” says Vasudeva.
Dog socialisation is crucial between six and 12 weeks. “Because Gordon was five weeks – instead of the eight we were told – he was too young to be pulled from his mother.
“He was unweaned, didn’t know what water was, hadn’t been vaccinated, desexed, registered or microchipped – which is illegal.”
Had Gordon not ended up with an experienced foster carer, he might have faced a bleak future. “Chances are, his owners wouldn’t understand his veterinary requirements. Dogs need a special diet, but many assume table scraps are OK. They wouldn’t know how to train him if he developed behavioural issues. By allowing dogs to be bought this way, we’re creating a propensity for them to be abandoned.”
Vasudeva had Gordon vaccinated, desexed and microchipped, and he was adopted at eight weeks’ old. He’s now settling into his new home, with a loving mum and a cat called Mouse.