The Sunday Tasmanian; Anne Boxall, Sun 8 July 2012
Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column
In last week’s Sunday Tasmanian Letters, several readers identified the costly contradiction between dog breeding operations and the existing surplus of companion animals. It’s costly for animals who pay the ultimate price and costly for us too. The interim care and end-of-life costs for dogs and cats in shelters are paid for by us, the community of rate-payers.
Meanwhile some breeders are proudly announcing the large profits they make for themselves while washing their hands of the over-supply problem. It just doesn’t make any sense that thousands of animals in need of homes are euthanased while profit-driven breeders continue to churn out puppies. Visit an animal shelter and you will find pure-bred dogs there. They are awaiting new homes along with many other appealing mixed breeds, including the ‘oodle’ varieties.
For breeders of pedigree dogs, the ‘bettering the breed’ argument has taken a battering following reports of on-going health issues in a range of breeds. Breeders of pure-bred dogs along with puppy farmers remain unregulated in this state.
Queensland leads the way in breeder regulation. Ideally though, a national solution would see all breeders identified, licensed and abiding by mandatory and enforceable standards. It’s possible that councils could adjust the number of breeding permits issued until a balance between supply and demand was achieved. Licensing and enforcement costs would be met by breeders under a user-pays system, similar to dog owners paying annual dog registration fees. There would be a limit on the numbers of litters which could be bred each year.
Breeding premises would be monitored and visited annually by independent inspectors who would arrive unannounced. Unethical breeders who kept animals in cramped conditions or constantly pregnant would not be granted permits. Responsible breeders would have nothing to fear and everything to gain from this overhaul of dog breeding activity, as it would weed out unscrupulous breeders who bring the whole industry into disrepute.
The responsible sale of pets and education of owners remain important aspects of cleaning up the current situation which sees around 250,000 animals euthanased nationally each year. Every person adopting from a shelter is doing their bit to help.
It’s time that breeders took responsibility too. As one of last week’s letters so accurately pointed out, breeders are the front end of the supply chain.