Geelong Advertiser Erin Pearson | July 9th, 2013
AN ILLEGAL backyard overbreeding crisis is driving the region’s soaring animal surrender numbers, leaving hundreds of dogs and cats without loving homes.
Geelong Animal Welfare Society’s Cass Langdon said its pens were constantly filled with staffordshire bull terriers and other bull breeds in particular, with dozens being surrendered each week – many with puppies as owners failed to sell them.
RSPCA inspectors said it was a worrying trend, with many welfare calls caused by overbreeding and lack of money.
Ms Langdon said the crisis was heartbreaking with so many sad faces left peering from behind metal fencing at the Moolap centre.
“We’ve got a litter of staffy-cross puppies that came in just the other day because the owner couldn’t sell them as there are too many out there already for sale,” she said. “People often get staffies because they look tough, but they’re not – they’re complete softies and need companionship or they can suffer severe anxiety.
“We have a staffy in our care at the moment that came in pregnant and ended up having two puppies but required a $1200 emergency caesarean. The costs plus potential risk of labour for the dogs are big and they can die. It’s definitely not a money-making venture in someone’s backyard.”
In the 2011-12 financial year GAWS handled 2869 dogs and 2482 cats.
The animal shelter currently has nine staffordshire bull terrier crosses up for adoption, 15 waiting to be reclaimed or assessed and four mothers with seven puppies in foster care.
RSPCA inspector Jason Nicholls said the overbreeding of domestic pets in backyards was a big problem across Geelong, with tight regulations heavily focused on registered breeders and commercial ventures.
Illegal backyard breeders, he said, often went unnoticed unless animal welfare concerns were raised.
“We get two to three dog surrenders a week here in the Geelong area,” he said.
“There’s a huge oversupply of puppies and people need to realise they’re not going to make a lot of money doing illegal breeding because there’s costs associated with looking after animals and if they’re not looked after properly people run the risk of prosecution.
“If you think you’re just going to get a couple of dogs and breed them to make easy money you should think again.”
He urged anyone with animal welfare concerns to contact the RSPCA immediately on 5223 1435 or 9224 2222.
The Geelong Advertiser reported on May 7 that a Norlane man condemned his pregnant labrador Ruby to an agonising death because he didn’t want to pay for veterinary treatment. Paul MacWhirter fled Lort Smith Animal Hospital rather than enter into a payment plan to have his dog treated. RSPCA inspectors found Ruby dead on MacWhirter’s back veranda the next day.
A post-mortem found Ruby was carrying five pups and died from hypovolemia and septic shock.
In April, the City of Greater Geelong said illegal backyard breeders and cat colonies would be targeted as part of a crackdown on unregistered animals. Council promised to increase patrols and follow-ups on pet-sale advertisements to close down all black market breeders under its proposed Domestic Animal Management Plan.
As of December last year, the City of Greater Geelong had 10 registered domestic animal breeders.
Fierce HOGs pitch in for dogs
BRUTISH-LOOKING leather-clad bikies are showing they may not be as hard-edged as their reputations suggest after signing on to sponsor homeless dogs at a local shelter.
Geelong Harley Owners Group director Ian Ross said he had always been a massive dog lover and was thrilled his club was able to help those in need.
He agreed that while the stigma attached to Harley riders was often one of fearlessness and intimidation, some had a soft spot buried under those black leather jackets.
“Seeing the animals here at GAWS certainly tugs at the emotions, so we’re pleased to be in a position where we can assist with the housing of dogs that aren’t so lucky in life,” he said.
“We may not be able to adopt a dog, but we still wanted to help.”
GAWS fundraising manager Cass Langdon said anyone could sponsor a pen, with close to 100 cat, dog and bird pens still available.
Those who sign up to a 12-month sponsorship receive an engraved plaque and regular updates on the animals their donations assist.
“When people or groups sponsor a pen they’re helping with elective surgery costs that as a society we can’t always cover. It directly saves lives,” she said.
“For example we have a dog in here who desperately needs patella surgery that’ll cost about $800, but if we had to charge the new owner that they simply wouldn’t cover it.
“At GAWS we’re trying to re-home every animal.”