9 February 2020

Puppy farming reforms promise to deliver the biggest single animal welfare improvement in WA for almost 20 years.

Reforms certain to prevent cruelty, neglect and abandonment of dogs.

RSPCA WA calls for all political parties to work together to get legislation passed as soon as possible.

RSPCA WA congratulates the McGowan Government for its Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2019 which aims to end indiscriminate backyard dog breeding in WA. It is now up to every dog lover in WA to let their local Member of Parliament know that these reforms are important to them to ensure the legislation is passed quickly.

The sooner the legislation comes into law, the sooner it will help prevent some of the suffering and cruelty to dogs that RSPCA WA inspectors see almost every day.

The reforms promise to deliver the most significant animal welfare improvement in WA since the Animal Welfare Act was updated in 2002. Right now, dog breeding is totally unregulated and anyone can breed as many puppies as they want. Unplanned litters are common. RSPCA WA inspectors deal with many cases where unwanted puppies and dogs are simply abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

In recent years, cases have included puppies found dumped in a shopping bag in the bush near Collie, a box of 10 black and tan puppies estimated to be just one or two weeks old and with their umbilical cords still attached dumped near Narrogin Creek; and most recently, on 5 December 2019, a litter of puppies was dumped at a rubbish tip in Esperance.

The new provisions for mandatory de-sexing, registration of dog breeders and a centralised dog registration system will most certainly reduce the number of sad cases like these.

The puppy farming reforms were a pre-election promise by Mark McGowan, which was strongly supported by RSPCA WA, and we are delighted to see the promise fulfilled after years of hard work and public consultation. RSPCA WA is proud to have been a major contributor to the development of the reforms.

Added to the neglect and abandonment of unwanted dogs, puppy farming leads to the heart breaking scenario of genetic faults which may not become apparent until the dog gets older. New owners who bought a cute looking puppy may face massive vet bills for corrective surgery. Or in the event the health problems become too great, the dog must be euthanised to save it from a life of pain and suffering.

Sadly, I have first-hand experience of the trauma to dogs caused by indiscriminate backyard breeding.

Dennis the rescue dogVALE DENNIS

Back in 2016, when then Opposition Leader Mark McGowan first announced Labor’s policy to stamp out puppy farming, my own dog Dennis was part of the excitement and anticipation.

Rescued by RSPCA inspectors from the puppy farm where he was born, Dennis, like so many dogs from these awful unregulated operations, looked so handsome and perfect on the outside, but battled all his life with both mental and physical problems caused by his lack of proper upbringing and hereditary issues that could have been avoided.

But he did have some good times. Dennis was excited to be invited to Parliament House by Mr McGowan. He reckoned he was the first dog from a puppy farm to ever set foot in such a hallowed place. His arthritic hips prevented him from walking up the steps but thanks to the thoughtful people who planned the Parliament House entrance, he was able to walk up the wheelchair ramp. Dennis thought this must have been put there especially for disabled dogs like him.

Dennis remained excited and confident that these reforms would be delivered, just as Mr McGowan promised, but sadly, Dennis didn’t live to see his dream come true. He passed away peacefully just last week after we made the difficult decision to end his arthritic pain. I believe we gave Dennis the best possible life a dog from a puppy farm could ever have had. I am certain that Dennis’s life would have been very different had he not been rescued by RSPCA WA Inspectors, and I like to think that if we hadn’t fallen in love with him and taken him in as part of our family no matter what his problems, he wouldn’t have reached the age of 14.

Our heartfelt thanks to the many thousands of people who contributed to the public consultation around this issue, demonstrating the community’s expectation that indiscriminate dog breeding needs to be regulated. This groundswell of public opinion has helped drive this important change for the welfare of dogs in Western Australia.

I know Dennis would want to thank each and every person who supported these reforms and who followed him on Twitter.

Goodbye Dennis @dennisbarksat #endpuppyfarms

Lynne Bradshaw AM