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You may not know much about puppy farms and factories; and that’s okay. But what’s important now is that you learn, educate others and advocate for change.
Puppy farms, also known as puppy mills or factories, are breeders who breed for profit—and while that might not sound so horrible, the realities of what many of these puppy farms put their pooches through will have you reeling.
Did you know it’s legal to kill dogs without question in every Australian state except Victoria?
Despite so-called codes of practice which are supposed to protect animals, legislation and guidelines are ridden with loopholes, and with no real enforcement, blatant cruelty runs rampant.
The case study
He spent the first five years of his life working as a stud dog in a puppy factory, spending his days in a small shed alongside 80 other dogs in a state of horrific neglect.
“His fur was so badly matted, it had become solid felt,” Oscar’s story on animal rights page Oscar’s Law reads.
“He had to be sedated so his fur could be shaved.”
Oscar had rotten teeth, gum disease, infections in both of his ears, and paper-thin skin due to malnourishment. He weighed only 1.4kg.
Under puppy farm legislation, his treatment is completely legal. And sadly, he is by far not the only one.
Over 200,000 dogs are euthanised in shelters every year in Australia. Despite this shocking figure, we still continue to unnecessarily breed more dogs on purpose. There are already many loving dogs waiting for families in shelters who are getting overlooked for the new “in” breed of dog, or the cute one in the pet shop window.
Why are we bringing more animals into a world where shelters and rescues are already to the brim with other unwanted and already-existing animals?
There is a difference between a registered loving breeder and a puppy mill—unfortunately, it’s the latter that is seemingly more common, and this has a disastrous impact on the dogs forced to breed.
These puppies are regularly sold underage, with rampant cross-breeding and inbreeding, poor nutrition and inadequate socialisation—and when the parents can no longer breed and are no longer profitable, they’re (usually) killed.
Live animal factories can hold anywhere from 20 to 1000 fertile female dogs for motherhood in horrendous conditions, and are kept continuously pregnant for their entire lives, starting sometimes as young as six months old. Within a few weeks, her litter will be taken away—you can imagine how traumatic and tiring this would be over and over again.
In a lot of cases, mums and pups are given no exercise, denied regular grooming, vet care and socialisation, sleeping in their own urine and faeces. Many will never even see the light of day, and go insane. The poor breeding will also often lead to genetic issues like hip dysplasia, skin conditions, overshot jaws or heart murmurs, as well as extreme anxiety and stress.
In NSW, there are no caps or limits on number of fertile female dogs allowed, or pups produced. While NSW does have a code of practise, it lacks legislation that triggers its use—so many factories can operate for years without an inspection, if ever.
In QLD, pups can be bred as early as 6 months. And while they do have a Breeder ID system, it is perfectly legal to kill dogs when they’re no longer financially useful. Soft bedding is not a requirement, nor is exercise, socialisation or enrichment so long as it’s ‘once a day’.
In SA, the 2017 Code of Practise has many loopholes where puppy farmers can kill breeding dogs by any means except drowning, so long as it ‘causes death or unconsciousness as rapidly as possible’. Breeding dogs can also be kept confined for up to 23 hours and 30 minutes per day.
In Tasmania, the legislation is also lacking, with the only real assertion that dogs cannot be killed in front of other dogs, and there must be a specific area on the property where the dogs are only killed.
In the ACT, there is a Breeder’s License system and a code of practise—but again, there are no enforcement agencies in place, and sales of these dogs are still allowed.
Victoria is the only state with any real animal protection laws in regards to puppy farms. In VIC, pet stores cannot sell animals unless they’re from a registered rescue group or pound. VIC also has a cap on fertile female dogs allowed, with a phase down to a maximum of 10 dogs by 2020, as well as mandatory health checks prior to breeding and breeder IDs. Dogs must also have a retirement plan in VIC, and cannot be killed without written vet advice confirming death is the only option.
What can we do?
If you support pet stores and backyard breeders, you are supporting this horrific industry. We must educate people on the realities of these horrific occurrences, and encourage them to source their pets ethically.
Since many backyard operators and breeders will lie about their puppy’s origins, the best bet is to ask questions and see for yourself. Have they had vaccinations? Have they been desexed? Don’t be afraid to ask for their breeder license (in applicable states), and report when your gut tells you something is wrong. Check out this ethical dog buyer’s guide here.
You can also contact your local MP to let them know these laws are not okay.
But whatever you do, please, make sure you adopt, and don’t shop.