Lax laws lure puppy mill breeders to NSW

Dog breeders are moving to New South Wales to escape tougher animal welfare laws in other states, a parliamentary report on puppy breeding warns.

Limits are needed on the number of dogs a breeder can have, with the upper house committee reviewing large-scale breeding of found dogs and cats.

It makes 18 recommendations to strengthen protections to crack down on the unethical breeding of dogs and cats.

Committee chairman Mick Veitch said there were more than 900 submissions to the survey and 6,000 responses to an online questionnaire.

“An odious practice”

“There is no doubt that raising puppies and kittens, at its worst, is a heinous practice, with offenders largely operating underground,” he said after the report was released on Thursday.

The more dogs there were, the less likely it was that a breeder could guarantee their welfare, according to the report.

He said it would be impossible to ensure animal welfare in industrial-scale livestock facilities without imposing staffing ratios and socialization requirements for animals.

The report recommends that the government introduce an extended liability regime holding breeders responsible for congenital or genetic health problems occurring during an animal’s first year of life.

Stricter laws introduced in Victoria and Western Australia, which are set to be introduced in South Australia, have prompted larger farmers to move across the border, the survey found.

“The political landscape across Australia is changing and communities in NSW, particularly border towns, are being affected,” Mr Veitch said.

“The NSW government must act to address this impact and keep pace with changing community expectations around animal welfare.”

He said people wanted to be sure their pets had been raised ethically and cared for well before bringing them into their homes.

The committee was also concerned that those convicted of animal cruelty could continue to breed.

He said potentially illegal and complicated breeding arrangements, where people return their pet to breed or deliver a litter, was another area where laws needed to be strengthened.

The inquiry was launched in November to examine a bill by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst to strengthen legal requirements for livestock keepers.

Current laws were revealed as pathetic in the survey, and puppy breeding must be banned, Ms Hurst said on Thursday.

Three months to respond

“NSW is becoming an embarrassment,” she said.

“If this government can’t even enact laws to protect dogs from mass cruelty, then what hope do other animals have?”

If its bill is not passed, the committee recommends that the government urgently introduce its own legislation.

More savvy advice on breeding arrangements, limits on the number of animals a breeder can have and the litters they can deliver, and increased funding for animal welfare organizations are among other recommendations. .

The government has three months to respond.