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Shut down cruel & illegal breeder establishments

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December 18, 2015

The Victorian Liberal-Nationals Coalition strongly supports the shut down of cruel and illegal breeder establishments.
When in government, the Coalition implemented a series of strong actions aimed at stamping out such disgraceful establishments where profits were put ahead of the welfare of animals.
For example, in October 2014, the former Coalition Government granted an additional $6 million to the RSPCA, commencing with an immediate $1.5 million allocation, to enforce Victoria’s world-leading compulsory Code of Practice for breeding and rearing establishment and for the organisation’s work shutting down rogue and illegal puppy farms.

The Coalition’s measures also included limiting female dogs to just 5 litters of puppies, with compulsory post-birth vet checks also required in addition to annual health checks.

The Coalition also led with amendments to Victoria’s Domestic Animals Act (DAA), including:
• introducing a ‘fit and proper person test’ for breeders. This means:
 anyone found guilty of animal cruelty offences will be banned from running, owning or managing a breeding or rearing establishment for 10 years.
 Existing businesses being run by people who have been found guilty of animal cruelty in the past can be shut down.
• introducing compulsory detailed records for pet shops to ensure animal traceability. This means:
 pet shops now forced to keep detailed records on the source of every dog and cat they have for sale.
 these records can be used by Council and RSPCA officers to investigate and prosecute illegal puppy and kitten farms who are doing the wrong thing.

The Coalition also granted greater powers for the RSPCA, so that officers now have the power to investigate and shut down cruel and illegal puppy and kitten farms. The RSPCA, along with councils, play an important role in enforcing our animal welfare laws and it is vital they had these additional powers and the extra funding to continue their great work.

On top of these new changes, while in government the Victorian Coalition Government:
 reduced the number of breeding dogs that a domestic animal business can have
 introduced the world’s strongest mandatory Code of Practice for dog and cat breeders that includes 100-plus prescriptions, including mandatory vet checks, breeding limits and retirement plans as well as housing, nutrition, exercise, socialisation and staffing ratio requirements
 banned breeding businesses from using wire floor caging and euthanasia by blunt force trauma
 made it law that all dogs and cats advertised for sale in Victoria must have a microchip number, and have given the RSPCA the power to investigate and fine people who do not comply
 given RSPCA and Council authorised officers the explicit power to enter an illegal puppy or kitten farm to seize animals
 more than doubled penalties for cruelty and aggravated cruelty. Aggravated cruelty now carries a $72,624 fine and up to two years jail
 increased the penalty for running an illegal puppy farm from $1,195 to $24,208 for individuals, or $88,566 for a body corporate
 increased the penalty for failing to adhere to the mandatory Code of Practice from $1,195 to $36,312 for an individual and $88,566 for a body corporate, and
 given courts the power to ban a person from owning animals for up to ten years.
These tough new measures have had impact. For example, within a few months of introducing the new ownership bans, a man from Cannons Creek convicted of 23 offences under the DAA and 16 offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was banned from owning dogs for 10 years under the DAA.
In another case, a woman convicted of offences relating to confinement, failure to feed and failure to treat under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has been banned from owning dogs for 7 years, while another woman convicted of similar charges has been banned from owning animals for 10 years.
During 2013-14, 14 Banning Notices were issued. Between 1 July-November 29 2014, at least 15 more Banning Notices were issued.
Illegal puppy and kitten breeding remains a sensitive issue for the Victorian public and there is more work to be done. Daniel Andrews’ Labor Government has flagged intention to bring in further measures which, while good intentioned, raise the prospect of creating puppy and kitten black markets in Victoria.
The Liberal-Nationals Coalition will continue to advocate for measures which crackdown on illegal and cruel breeding practices and which promote responsible pet ownership.