Puppy farms are commercial businesses that mass produce puppies for sale through pet shops or online. Puppy farms (sometimes called puppy factories or puppy mills) are typically located in rural or outer suburban areas and can have hundreds of breeding dogs on site that are confined in cages for most of their lives. Sue Pennicuik MP has described them as “places where animals are kept in horrendous conditions as virtual breeding machines.”
The long standing policy of the Greens is to eliminate all cruel practices in relation to the breeding, sale and confinement of companion animals and to abolish puppy farms in Victoria by:
• Banning the sale of live animals from pet shops excepting those which source animals solely from genuine animal shelters and re-homing services.
• Fostering the adoption of unclaimed, impounded companion animals and the development of ‘no kill’ shelters to rehabilitate and re-home such animals.
What are puppy farms?
The RSPCA says that dogs in puppy farms are often confined in crowded cages with little room to move. They receive inadequate vaccination and veterinary care, making them highly susceptible to infectious diseases, parasites and many acute and chronic conditions, and can develop behavioural difficulties due to the miserable conditions in which they are born.
Once the puppies are sold, their mothers are left behind to endure endless cycles of producing litters. It’s not uncommon for female dogs as young as six months to be breeding and to produce several litters a year for their entire lives.
Oscar’s law is a community organisation dedicated to the abolition of puppy farms. It is named after ‘Oscar’, a puppy who was rescued from a puppy farm in early 2010, in a terrible condition, only to be returned to it soon after by the authorities. He was rescued again 18 months later and is now eight years old.
Oscar’s law say that puppy factory bitches are usually bred every time they come into heat, until they can no longer produce puppies. Once the dog is no longer useful for breeding it is destroyed and replaced by another female, often one of her female pups.
Dogs rescued from puppy factories are often very difficult to rehome, because they have known nothing but a cage their entire life and struggle to cope with the outside world. Tragically, many of these dogs cannot be rehabilitated as pets and will be euthanised. The ones that are saved will need special care for the rest of their lives.
While it is not known exactly how many puppy farms are operating in Victoria, it is estimated that there are at least 100. Animal welfare organisations such as Oscar's Law, the RSPCA, Animals Australia, the Humane Society and many others are opposed to puppy farms and there is ongoing community opposition to them.
Stop animal sales from pet shops
It is estimated that 95 per cent of puppies sold in pet shops are produced in puppy factories or by backyard breeders. The Greens want to see the sale of companion animals banned from pet shops as this encourages impulse buying of animals, many of which are later abandoned because they are not suitable or no longer wanted. Oscar’s law, the RSPCA, Animals Australia and the Humane Society all advocate that adoption is the best alternative to impulse buying. No puppy factory whether it is 'clean', 'model', 'state of the art' or otherwise is an acceptable environment for animals. The RSPCA has tips on how to avoid purchasing from puppy farms. Animals Australia say ‘be a hero to your next four-legged friend by heading to Pet Rescue, or contacting your local animal shelter or rescue group (the list of Animals Australia member societies is a great place to start). The Humane Society say “By choosing not to buy your next pet or pet supplies from stores or websites that sell live dogs, you are directly helping to end this cycle of cruelty.”
The Greens say that while the government is committing to more regulation, powers and resources, the law and the code will still allow puppy farms to operate where animals are caged for up to 23 hours a day for the purposes of breeding for profit and that is what needs to be stopped by banning the sale of animals through pet shops and by abolishing puppy farms.