Animal cruelty laws threaten the future of dog breeding

Changes to the prevention of cruelty to animals standards could threaten the future of ethical dog breeding and ownership, according to Dogs NSW.

The proposed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Breeding Dogs and Cats) Standards 2017 (under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012) is meant to control puppy farms, defined by the RSPCA as ‘intensive dog breeding facilities that are operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs' behavioural, social and/or physiological needs'

But local vet and member of Dogs NSW Rob Zammit said the changes in legislation go too far, and blanket the rights of “mum and dad” who would like to have a litter of dogs at home.

Dr Zammit spoke with the Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, on Wednesday to discuss his concerns on the proposed changes.

“I raised my concerns with Minister Blair on the proposal as it stands. He was very receptive to what I had to say, he understood that there were issues in the proposal that affect everyone and in his words he realises ‘we need to live in the real world’,” Dr Zammit said.

“I simply couldn’t accept nor support the proposal as it currently stands.

“What it has set out to achieve is to stop puppy farmers abusing animals, but as it stands it blankets everyone - even the mum and dads out there that was to have a litter of two of pets.”

According to the proposed changes in legislation breeders, no matter whether they have one litter or farm the animals, must make considerable and costly changes to their home or business to house the animals and have qualified staff caring for them.

The housing expectations include a free-running or off-lead exercise enclosure for dogs are at a minimum size of 10 metres by four metres and fenced.

Dr Zammit said this would make it nearly impossible for a farmer out west to have a litter of working dogs and even said it would impinge on the way guide dogs and police dogs are bred and raised.

“I think if the changes went through as they stand there would be civil disobedience as it would make it nearly impossible for a lot of breeders to fall in line.”

Brian Crump, spokesperson for Dogs NSW, added that the proposed regulations also do not address cruelty to animals and fail to adequately address puppy farming on that scale.

“Dogs NSW rejects the proposed changes by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) as these regulations treat all dog and cat breeders as commercial entities, breeding for profit,” Mr Crump said.

“Smaller, purebred hobby breeders will be unable to meet the exhaustive ‘commercial’ requirements proposed in the new Standards. Consequently, the public will have nowhere else to buy a health-tested, purebred puppy.

“No-one else will be breeding except the big puppy farms.”

Dr Zammit said he felt Minister Blair was open to adjusting the proposal and felt hopeful the legislation could be worked to best suit all breeders more importantly for the safety of all animals.

The changes to legislation can be found at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au and Minister Blair has extended the public consultation period to the end of January.