Lyn Brand, President, Dogs NSW, explains why proposed legislation will havea devastating effect on the industry.

When did you last see a stray dog that was eating from a bin in the street,malnourished, distressed and – worst of all – unwanted?

Most likely you have seen none because these days pet owners cherish theiranimals. When you see a dog in the street, it will be on its lead or harness,sitting with its family at an outdoor café, part of a community.

The pandemic has changed the place of companion animals in homes. Laws shoreup the rights and obligations of owners, pets and neighbours.

But proposed legislation, with massive over-reach, threatens not just to keepstrays off the streets but also to remove our pets from our homes or yards.

In the NSW Upper House, the Animal Justice Party is promoting the CompanionAnimals Amendment (Puppy Farms) Bill 2021, mainly aimed at eliminating, as itsays, puppy farms – a practice that my purebreed organisation, Dogs NSW,abhors. Other key aims include limiting puppy and kitten sales (the Billcovers dogs and cats) in pet shops.

The Bill, at best misguided, aims to curb “intensive breeding of companionanimals” by capping the number of dogs a breeder can have and the number oflitters. Under these limits, genuine and responsible purebred kennels becomethe low-hanging branch, as they account for just 13.4 per cent of dogs bred inNSW.

Dogs NSW members observe their own code of ethics and follow rigorousstandards of welfare and certification. Anyone who breaches these will bepenalised or suspended – but, if the amendments pass, some breeders couldbecome instant outlaws. The proposed limits are: 10 breeding animals; twolitters only from each female, then they must be desexed; and males to becastrated at six years of age.

Legislation like this will be counter-productive. It will tug at theheartstrings but it will break hearts. It will push good people out and openthe door to yet more dodgy businesses. It will restrict access to outsidebloodlines and potentially spell the end of some breeds.

And it will deny people the companion or pet, puppy or kitten, of their choicebecause scarcity will push prices up, even if you can find a breeder withavailable litters or you can wait months or longer for one to arrive fromrestricted mating.

Meanwhile, crossbreeding kennels fill demand, producing dogs with sought-aftercoat colours and other traits and, anecdotally, getting tens of thousands ofdollars for them.

There are draconian measures in the Bill, for example, local council officersbeing authorised to seize animals without recourse – from a licensed,regulated and caring operation and a breeder who microchips his new litter andcertifies their fitness for sale.

How will that measure apply to the “farmer” who goes under the radar, sellingpuppies from a facility where bitches are bred constantly in horrendousconditions. The farmer, if he comes to the attention of animal welfareinspectors, moves further north, west or south to another isolated shed.

The Bill seeks to wipe out this practice but has the potential to persecutethe people maintaining breed consistency. There are fines and jail terms atworst. It calls for breeders to have one staff member for every five animals,which is more than the ratio in aged care.

Dogs NSW members are not puppy farmers – we love our animals, so we are not init for the money. For what I have spent on buying dogs from overseas toimprove bloodlines, flying and quarantining them, then looking after theirwelfare and feeding, I could have built a house!

The number of breeders is declining, though, and this will lead eventually toscarcity of some breeds. During the pandemic, lots of families brought dogsinto their homes – now, this Bill threatens to take them away. Instead of yourchild asking, “Can we have a puppy?” the question will be, “Where can we get apuppy?”

Tagged: Animal Justice Party, Dogs NSW

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