Community calls for greater action against puppy farms than “flashy legislation” can offer

Despite new legislation from the Andrews Government, Victorian pet owners worry that still “nowhere near enough” is being done about puppy farming, with such legislation scarcely being enforced “where it actually matters.”

Every four minutes a dog is killed in an Australian pound, commonly leftover from litters bred “back to back” in puppy farms. In May 2015, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford outlined a detailed plan to end puppy farming, following a $5 million grant from the Andrews Government, including breeding restrictions, and a devoted RSPCA Task Force against farming. Yet these statistics persist today.

Joanne Thomas, a passionate opponent of puppy farming, argues this is largely due to an inability- or unwillingness- for authorities to act, with some Councils deeming the issue “too expensive” to combat, and others neglecting to inspect breeding factories at all.  “The authorities need to do a lot more,” she says. “The RSPCA still have nowhere near enough power. They need many, many more resources.” A task force was recently established, but its ability to make meaningful change is limited, with most farms operating secretly, often nestled within legal loopholes.

Joanne with Molly, who was rescued after breeding in a puppy farm for five years.

RSPCA Welfare Policy Manager Mhairi Roberts explains that legislation is “important as a starting base,” but enforcing it proves “very difficult,” with the legal system lacking an “effective framework in place to regulate it.”

Furthermore, even this limited legislation is only enforceable in Victoria. “What a lot of farmers do is buy properties on other states’ borders and then sell from there into Victoria,” Thomas clarifies. “And no one can do anything.”

However, legislation only provides the groundwork with which to combat puppy farming; the greatest power for change may rest with the community itself. “The public definitely cause the most meaningful change,” explains Thomas. “It’s the public which either give these farms business, or knocks them out of it.”

Roberts concurs. “Really, the only reason farms exist is because there is a demand. If the general public was educated, these institutions would cease to exist.”