Unnecessary amendments unlikely to stop puppy farming

Agricultural Region MLC Rick Mazza of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has labelled the Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2020 an unnecessary intervention in the governments rush to impose restrictions on good, law abiding dog owners in W.A.

Under the proposed conditions, only approved breeders can breed dogs and owners will need to de-sex their dogs by two years of age unless exempt. Breeders and dogs will also be traced throughout their lives via a centralised registration system.

Dog owners will be forced to register as a breeder without the intention of breeding ie. to allow a dog to compete in dog shows that require the animal to be entire.

“Last year I asked a question in Parliament about the number of puppy farms that have been investigated by the State Government in the last five years and prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2002,” Mr Mazza said.

“The response I received said the RSPCA has prosecuted two cases for harm to animals relating to conditions from puppy farming, which suggests pupping farming is not an endemic issue in Western Australia.”

Mr Mazza said the Bill is not new legislation but rather an amendment to the Dog Act 1976 that will mandate the Government’s responsibility onto 138 local Governments around WA.

“Sterilising dogs by the time they are two years old is pointless as they can breed well before that age. Livestock working dogs are bred by farmers who can identify strong genes – it should be the right of the owner to decide if their pet is sterilised or not,” Mr Mazza said.

“It has been indicated that livestock working dogs will be exempt from mandatory sterilisation if the owner registers as a breeder, which will be required even if an owner only has one unsterilised dog, but we have no idea about other working dogs such as retrievers, pointers and hunting dogs. This proposed legislation does not include greyhounds at this stage, but when will the standards and guidelines be changed to capture them?”

Mr Mazza said the cost of purchasing a puppy will increase as a result of the proposed conditions, creating a financial temptation for the unscrupulous to engage in illegal puppy farming.

“These amendments are unlikely to stop puppy farming, they will only put owners through an onerous and expensive process to become a registered breeder and will make it harder for the industry to source working dogs. The Animal Welfare Act 2002 already allows for investigation and prosecution of a person who does not care for a dog, including those found in puppy farm situations,” Mr Mazza said.

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