Australian State legislates against puppy farming

The changes from Victoria’s Puppy Farm and Pet Shops Bill are significant in the fight against puppy farms with very low animal welfare standards. PHOTO: © IFAW/JunAfter years of campaigning and lobbying in the state of Victoria, Australia, new legislation was introduced to help curb the industrial breeding and selling of cats and dogs.

Under the new Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Bill 2016, hobby breeders (keeping one fertile female dog or three or more fertile female cats and selling their puppies and kittens) will have to register as a domestic animal business, whilst commercial breeders will need to reduce their female dogs from 350 to 10 by 2020. There will also be a new central registry of domestic animal businesses and this will help councils monitor breeders and sellers. These changes are significant in the fight against puppy farms with very low animal welfare standards.

Most interestingly, pet shops will no longer be able to sell puppies and kittens unless they come from a registered shelter or from foster carers. This is phenomenal and reminds me of an article I read about the US city of Philadelphia doing just the same. With a total ban on shops selling commercially bred puppies, there will be major disruption in the puppy farm industry.

But, this doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for responsible pet stores – although one store claimed that their bottom line was hit (as the adoption fee is much lower than the revenue from a new puppy), the changes did actually lead to a 10% increase in new customers to the store according to reports.

It is time for the UK to follow this lead.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is lobbying the UK Government for the following amendments to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 as part of our wide-reaching P.U.P.S campaign:

  1. Ending all third-party puppy sales (i.e. taking out the middle man and naturally excluding rescue shelters and assistance dogs)
  2. Introduce a better licensing system to allow full traceability when buying a dog
  3. Introduce stricter laws for online classified sites, so their ‘for sale’ adverts are more closely scrutinised

IFAW is united with other leading dog welfare organisations in our commitment to improving the welfare of dogs and puppies within the UK and we support improved regulations that specifically address the sale of pets online and offline to ensure clear traceability of anyone selling a puppy and an improved licensing, monitoring and enforcement regime. We’d like to see the introduction of a ban on all third-party sales of puppies in stores and online to protect the welfare of puppies sold within the UK and to allow prospective owners the chance of seeing the puppy with its mother.

Research shows that the first six to 14 weeks of a puppy’s life are its most important. It is during this early learning period when it learns about the world, other dog behaviour and, importantly, human behaviour. Early removal from the mother and littermates has proven to compromise welfare and create behavioural problems later in life, with many dogs subsequently being relinquished to shelters and pounds at a cost to independent shelter organisations and local councils.

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Through our P.U.P.S campaign, we hope to make buying a puppy a safer experience for people and puppies alike and to put unscrupulous breeders and sellers out of business. We want dogs to be cared for and have positive welfare experiences in the homes of good breeders or rescue shelters; we want people who want to buy a puppy to know exactly where it came from including seeing its mother and home – all these things aren’t automatically garnered from a typical pet shop environment or an online classified advert.

We don’t necessarily want responsible pet stores selling puppies to close but we do want them to adapt to the more present animal welfare attitudes; the outdated laws governing pet shops were written in the 1970s and it’s about time we bring these up to speed with current welfare views. That’s why we wholeheartedly applaud all the hard work that went on to make positive change for the dogs and cats of Victoria and pledge to carry on fighting on the puppies behalf on this side of the world.

--VA

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