The Punch, Dec 19, 2011, Nicole Dungan
If you did get your dog from a petshop or ordered it online, there’s a strong chance you have unwittingly bought a dog from a puppy factory.
A puppy factory – like the dark satanic mills which ruthlessly exploited children of the Industrial Revolution – churns out cute designer crossbreeds which we all go goo and gah over. While the puppies mostly go on to have good lives with owners, walkies, grass, toys, food and vet care, the breeding animals do not. They exist for the sole purpose of breeding, and live in appalling conditions, in tiny cages, sometimes with barely enough food and water to sustain their horrible lives.
Their fur is often matted and covered in their own excrement. Many suffer conditions such as skin abscesses, infections or uncleaned teeth which go untreated by professional vets.
Some have never seen the light of day, never been walked, played with by humans or another dog. They have never been loved.
But wait, there’s more. Once these animals have served their useful purpose, many of them are simply killed.
Debra Tranter – the number 1 enemy of the puppy farmers – has been fighting for 20 years to expose the cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy factories and she is the founder of Oscar’s Law.
Debra has seen the horrible effects of overbreeding on female dogs – prolapsed uteruses, weeping mammary tumours – and male dogs with their genitals matted to their legs. Fellas, think about the last time you got caught in your zip.
Many of us would run from these images – because once you see them you can’t get them out of your head. But Debra is fighting for the rights of these animals. She receives daily hate mail, threats and has had break ins at her home. She is slandered and has had some outrageous accusations made against her.
Debra says she loves the hate mail because it shows she is having an effect on this industry of shame.
So who is Oscar?
Oscar was a breeder. His purpose in life was to exist in a small cage and service female dogs. He was a prized animal because he was a ‘teacup’ size. Perfect for the lap dog market.
The night Debra took him from his cage and rescued him from the puppy factory, he was only six. He’d been sleeping in pure filth, his own excrement, his genitals were matted to his leg, his ears full of black sludge and mites. His skin was tearing because he was so badly matted.
When Debra took him, he had his first hug, his first love. She took him straight from that factory to the vet for the first time in his life. He weighed 2.2kg – which was small for even a teacup sized dog – but after he was sedated, his fur clipped and unmated he weighed only 1.6kg.
That night, the police raided Debra’s home and charged her with theft and Oscar was returned to that puppy farm. After 20 years of campaigning and liberating dogs, this was the first criminal conviction Debra had received.
But because he’d been desexed by the vet, the puppy farmer had no use for him and Oscar was put up for sale. Debra disguised herself, went to this puppy farm and purchased him.
There are two types of luck in this world – and Oscar has had both. He now has a home where he is safe, happy, clean, healthy and loved.
Oscar’s Law aims to educate people about the illegal trade of puppies bred from puppy factories and backyard breeders. In October the Victorian Government passed legislation which includes defining ‘puppy farm’. There is a code of practice and breaches of it can incur fines of up to $30,000 and breeding bans of up to 10 years.
Under the Victorian legislation it is also illegal to advertise a dog for sale without a microchip.
Perhaps most importantly, the Victorian Government will also raise community awareness about ethical pet adoption.
While this legislation is a God-send for dogs in Victoria, it needs to be copied by all Australian State Governments. There is nothing to stop a breeder moving to South Australia or New South Wales where they can continue their brutal maltreatment of animals for a quick buck.
So this Christmas, if you’re thinking it’s time to get a puppy, don’t buy through a petshop or online.
Choose a legitimate, registered breeder. Do your homework and work out what dog will suit you, and visit the breeder and meet the dogs’ parents.
Better yet, adopt a dog without an owner from the RSPCA. They need you.
Or do what my good friend did when I told her about the Oscar’s Law site. She visited it, took one look at the Nobby the beagle, made a donation and didn’t look at the site again.
If you can afford a few dollars, donate. If you can’t donate, sign the petition, send a letter to your State Agricultural Minister. Demand action.
And let’s eradicate this horrible industry forever.
Nicole wrote this article with the help of Debra Tranter.