Puppy farming (or puppy factory) is defined as an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs. It often results in animals being used as production units for gains without consideration of the animal’s health or welfare, and they are often housed in deplorable conditions.
Animal Welfare League NSW supports provision of the Five Freedoms of animal welfare. The Five Freedoms are internationally accepted standards of care that affirm every living being’s right to humane treatment. These standards were developed by Britain’s Farm Animal Welfare Council in 1965 and ensure that we meet the mental and physical needs of animals in care. These are the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviours.
- Freedom from fear and distress.
Animal Welfare League NSW believes the production, promotion and sale of animals with a profit motive undermines these freedoms and takes away the ability for the animal to be a valuable individual in our society as a loved pet and companion. Animals that are used for the purpose of intense breeding often have multiple health complications and poorer-quality of life. They are often exploited for financial gain and disposed when no longer of use. Our animals deserve better.
Legislation and Regulation
Animal Welfare League NSW believes the legislation (that should protect these animals) should be overhauled. Puppy farms and cat equivalents are currently not banned in NSW. The very existence of these intensive pet breeding facilities is another indication that the regulation of the pet supply industry in NSW must be reviewed and improved to ensure better welfare outcomes for these animals.
Animal Welfare League NSW would like to see outcomes achieved through changing the NSW legislation – as actioned in Victoria, which not only set a great precedent but also attracted global attention in taking a stand against puppy farming.
Key outcomes from the Victorian Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Act 2017:
- First state in Australia to ban the sale of animals in pet shops unless they are from a registered shelter, rescue group or pound. This law came into effect on 1 July 2018.
- The first state in Australia to introduce a cap on dog numbers and a limit on how many litters a dog can have. From April 2018 puppy farmers must not replace breeding stock and must start to phase down to 10 females by 2020.
- First state in Australia to legislate a mandatory vet health check for every dog prior to breeding and post whelping.
- Implemented a public searchable online Pet Exchange Register. Anyone who wants to sell a companion animal must register their details and their ‘breeder ID’ number must be placed in all online adds. No breeder ID = no ad can be placed.
- Penalties apply to any online trading site who allows ads to be published without a pet exchange register number. The Pet Exchange Register commences 1 July 2019.
What is happening in NSW?
In 2018, the NSW Government launched the requirement of identification numbers to be placed on all adverts where cats and dogs are sold or given away. The identification number can be a microchip, approved rescue rehoming number or registered breeder number. The purpose of this identification number is to give potential pet owners the ability to trace where their new pet has come from, and to help source their pet from a credible and reputable place. Click here to learn more about the requirement of identification numbers in NSW.
Furthermore, in July 2019, new annual permits were introduced for non-desexed cats and restricted and dangerous dogs as a deterrent to pet owners. While these changes may be a step in the right direction for pet owners to consider the wellbeing of their own pets, it can push those doing the right thing to go further underground – making the offenders harder to track and compromises the wellbeing of the animals being bred. Our animals deserve tougher laws to protect them. Breeders, irrespective of their facilities, can be prosecuted by Animal Welfare Inspectors if found responsible for inhumane conditions and in breach of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA 1979).
Legislative changes required in NSW
Animal Welfare League NSW proposes the following changes to the legislation and regulation in NSW to help protect the animals that rely on us. AWL NSW would like to see the following changes implemented:
- Institute a registry of all companion animals.
- Registration of pet shops with the ability to identify source of the animal breeder.
- Enforce caps on ownership of animals, number of litters with clear definition of micro/small breeders and licenced breeders with no more than 50 animals under the care of a breeder. The law to stipulate number of female animals and caps by type of breeder.
- Ensure mandatory medical checks for animals pre-breeding and post whelping.