Home' Scoop : Scoop 72 Winter 2015 Contents 78
RSPCA chief inspector Amanda Swift urges buyer
action in light of growing concerns about misadventure
in the puppy industry. words Christie Bosworth
RADING IN MISERY
THow much is that doggy
in the window? Big bucks,
These days, puppies
especially the ones
populating so many
Instagram feeds – can cost
more than a family car, more than a European
holiday, certainly a lot more than a mongrel
from the Shenton Park Dogs’ Refuge Home.
You could easily part with $10,000 for an
on-trend French bulldog, for example.
Take a walk along any Perth promenade
on a sunny Sunday, and it quickly becomes
clear that particular breeds have become
style statements for many, which must mean
thousands of puppies – and some serious
dollars – are changing hands. So, where is all
that doggie dosh going?
According to RSPCA chief inspector
Amanda Swift (above), it isn’t going to
promote the welfare of the breeding animals.
More often than not, it’s headed into the
back pockets of those running illegal puppy
farms, and of their middlemen. Conditions
in many puppy farms breach animal welfare
legislation, says Amanda, making them part
of a nationwide criminal industry.
“You’re talking (stacked) cages,
with breeding bitches on top of
breeding bitches,” says
cages are not getting cleaned, (the dogs) are not
getting walked or exercised. It’s just turnover.”
Despite the fact that puppies are often
supplied by such illegal breeders, it is still
perfectly legal to sell them in pet shops (or
“legal outlets for criminal activity,” as Amanda
“It is organised crime,” she says. “It can be
as (lucrative) as dealing drugs. I just wish there
was some way that when people saw a cute
puppy, they only saw a poor bitch in a cage,
caked in faeces.”
While puppy farms are hard to trace across
Australia’s vast rural areas, the illegal puppy
industry does leave a trail, which is partly why
the WA trade took a hit in 2012 and 2014,
when two factories were closed down by
the RSPCA. In 2012, Fay Armstrong was
fined $34,000 for operations at her farm in
Spearwood and a property in Korrelocking.
In the 2014 Katherine King case, puppies were
discovered in an underground bunker at
a South Doodlakine property. The owner
was ordered to pay more than $30,000.
Despite these reports, WA buyers seem
as willing as ever to help criminal operators
stay in business, notably those in Victoria and
Queensland, the states that primarily supply
the trade in WA. Usually, Amanda says, there’s
a middleman who supplies the pups to pet
shops here. “They’ll be dealing with a specific
pet shop in WA, and the pet shop will (order)
20 Labrador puppies.” These puppies may
then come from five different farms over east.
“Lots of people know what’s going on,”
says Amanda. “But it’s about
chain – and there’s a lot of money involved.”
To better enable prosecutions, she believes,
tighter legislation is required, which would build
in transparency around the source breeders,
the individuals who collect the animals, and the
places where the pups are delivered.
Currently, vaccination certificates are the only
way for owners to find out their pup’s state of
origin. This is usually revealed during a vet visit,
when the family realises their new pup is not
the allergy-free purebred they were promised.
Until such a time as the process becomes more
transparent, it is up to consumers to ask more
questions, Amanda says.
She also hopes that the stigma attached
to buying a pup from a shop – or through
Gumtree – will override the desire to acquire
a status animal.
“We live in a society where it’s so easy to
walk into a pet shop, and come home with
a puppy. Or go online,” she says. It’s a habit
that goes hand-in-hand with the throwaway
mind-set: if something no longer suits, get rid
of it and buy another one.
“Some owners deliver unwanted animals
to a rescue centre for rehoming. Others
take extreme measures. Like we had today –
someone drowned and buried (their dog), but
didn’t stop to see whether it had died. They
buried it alive.”
Change will come when buyers seek
out only WA-registered, local breeders,
understanding that how they buy a dog is
a decision that will affect the lives of
generations of animals to come.
For further reading, visit
oscarslaw.org, or adoptapet.com.au. S
Links Archive Scoop 71 Autumn 2015a Scoop 73 Spring 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page