Weekly Times Now; Chris McLennan | February 29, 2012
WORKING-dog breeders may yet be allowed an exemption from some of Victoria’s new animal laws.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh has belatedly flagged new temporary rules for many breeders operating illegally under the new laws designed to stop illegal puppy farms.
Breeders say it’s tacit acknowledgment the Government failed to consult them before the laws were introduced this year.
Mr Walsh’s proposal has already been questioned by his own Bureau of Animal Welfare – charged with applying the new laws – which says it was not consulted about the Minister’s plan.
In internal emails seen by The Weekly Times, bureau director Stephen Tate said information from Mr Walsh “mentioning ‘temporary standards’ was generated in his office and is new to the bureau”.
“Legally, there is no ability under the Domestic Animals Act for a ‘temporary code’ to be made,” Dr Tate wrote.
While the new Act was made law on January 1, the government has now included working-dog groups in a review of the associated Code of Practice for Breeding and Rearing Establishments.
In a written statement, Mr Walsh said he was “open to hearing the concerns of commercial and stud breeders” during the review of the code.
“If there are aspects of the code that we intend to change as part of the review, I will not rule out the possibility of temporary rules until the new code comes into force,” Mr Walsh said.
The minister has also written to working-dog organisations, including Kelpie and Border Collie groups, saying he had asked the Department of Primary Industries to now consult “to determine if temporary standards should be developed specifically for the circumstances of working-dog breeders”.
That DPI review has come in the form of a survey from theBureau of Animal Welfare that initially gave the organisations a week to respond, but this has been extended to three weeks.
Mr Walsh has told working-dog groups they are unlikely to win “applicable organisation” status such as Dogs Victoria.
The exemption from the new laws sought by working-dog breeders relates to kennelling and concreted yards.