There are calls to follow in Victoria’s footsteps for stricter laws for puppy farm offenders, after a lack of compliance with state regulations and commonwealth legislation regarding legitimate registered breeding businesses.
Over the years offenders have been accruing fines from $10,000 to over $155,000 in unpaid boarding and veterinary costs, but since each state regulates animal welfare individually, there are calls to have animal welfare regulations consistently covered state to state.
While the Australian Government has “no legislative responsibility for companion animal matters, including puppy farming operations,” according to the government website, “it has taken on a leadership role by coordinating the development and implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy.”
As of now, puppy farms are legal in Australia, as long as the proprietors meet the minimum standard of care. So long as each state adheres to the requirement that the dog can stand up, turn around and lie down in a pen that has a partial roof, there is nothing to investigate.
The dogs can remain in these cages their entire life and legally, there is no requirement for socialisation, grooming or bathing, human contact, exercise and certainly no requirement for love.
Though each state determines its own laws, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 dictates how local governments (councils) govern and make laws with respect to domestic animals.
Victoria has taken this first step, according to Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh. In an interview with www.premier.vic.gov.au, Walsh explains how “the maximum fine for operating illegal puppy farms jumps from $1,195 to $20,000 while the maximum penalty for animal cruelty increases to $30,000.”
In order to detect perpetrators, inspections are constantly carried out all around Victoria and regulators and rescue organisations are adamant to adhere to every factor. Breeders and their facilities have to meet standards based on the Victorian Code of Practice for Breeding Establishment and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1986 (POCTAA), which is amended from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1983, which investigates alleged cruelty offences in puppy farms.
The Australian government website outlines that in Victoria, breeding establishments must operate in accordance with the Code of practice for the operation of breeding and rearing establishments.
“This code details the minimum standards of accommodation, management and care for the welfare —including the physical and behavioural needs—of animals housed at these establishments.”
With the standard set, other states are beginning to make changes. New South Wales has reviewed and amended the NSW Model Code of Practice- Breeding dogs, due to its poor coverage of animal welfare, and renamed it the Animal Welfare Code of Practice – Breeding Dogs and Cats (2009).
Regulations have also been established in New South Wales to target puppy farming specifically.PawsForAction have created the Animal Bill “to stop the cruelty of puppy farming by restricting those who can carry on the business of breeding companion animals”, as said by the website, “and by prohibiting the sale of cats and dogs at or from shops or markets.”
Coincidently, in August 2009, New South Wales introduced the Animal welfare code of practice: breeding dogs and cats, which contains legally binding standards that specifically cover puppy farms.
The Australian government has “decided that developing national standards and guidelines for the keeping of dogs and cats should be a priority, and a small project team has made good progress on this.”
This will address each state equally, and aim for animal welfare equality nationwide.
All other states are required, similar to Victoria and New South Wales, to take appropriate care of any animal and must provide protection from harm, adequate food, water, shelter, exercise, living conditions and veterinary attention.
In South Australia, the welfare of dogs is protected by the state’s Animal Welfare Act 1985, in Queensland, dog and cat breeding are subject to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and in Western Australia, RSPCA inspectors “are responsible for monitoring the welfare of dogs, including those in specific breeding businesses”, but relies on the Animal Welfare Act 2002 to protect all animals.
Though, the ACT is not aware of any puppy farm trade in the state, the welfare of dogs is still protected under the Animal Welfare Act 1992.
Many sources have been disinclined or unavailable to provide any information on the laws regarding puppy farming, despite many spokespeople expressing how they will not stand for the mistreatment of animals.
But laws need to be tightened to stop the illegal operations going unnoticed and for the export of puppies overseas. Offenders increasingly claim mentally unstableness under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990, but informants and spokespeople assure this not the case.
Working hard alongside “the Australian Companion Animal Council, the Pet Industry Association of Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association and state governments”, the Australian government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry explains the desperate need for new regulation, support and amendments to be made in Australia, in order to stop illegal puppy farming.