23 May 2023

A serial puppy farmer, who was breeding sick dogs in filthy conditions and selling them for thousands of dollars, has today been banned from owning or breeding dogs for the rest of her life.

The 51-year-old Bullsbrook woman’s sentencing on 17 charges of animal cruelty in the Perth Magistrates Court also attracted a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, $25,000 in fines and an 18-month Intensive Supervision Order.

She was also ordered to pay legal costs of $24,279.11 and care and treatment costs of $18,241.01.

The offender was convicted in January. She has been in custody since 14 April, after breaching her bail conditions. 

In sentencing today, Magistrate Janie Gibbs said perhaps now the offender has ‘an understanding of the pain and suffering of the animals in her care. She is locked in a cage and has limited control of the care she receives.’

The charges related to 32 dogs, all highly desirable breeds including Maltese, shih-tzus, poodles and cavalier King Charles spaniels, who were seized from her Bullsbrook home in June 2020.


            Conditions at the property 

This is the offender’s fourth conviction for animal cruelty. The most recent was in 2014 when she was sentenced after the RSPCA found 50 dogs on her Wheatbelt property, a dozen of them hidden in a bunker three metres underground.

Today’s decision follows a four-day trial in December, in which the court heard the offender had been trying to hide evidence of her crimes, moving dogs between three different Bullsbrook houses to avoid detection.  

RSPCA WA says they believe the offender was making at least $180,000 a year from selling puppies.

Magistrate Janie Gibbs said the woman had shown ‘callous disregard or at least wilful blindness’ in relation to her offending.

The puppy farmer was reported by a member of the public, who had responded to a Gumtree ad and become suspicious when told they couldn’t visit the dog in its home.

RSPCA WA launched an investigation, which led to the seizure of 32 dogs–four adult males, 19 adult females and nine puppies. Most of the dogs appeared either underweight, unkempt, or unwell.

The dogs were living in unhygienic, cramped, and untidy conditions, with the majority inside small steel cages and plastic carrier crates.

RSPCA inspectors located four puppies squashed together in a small cardboard box with no food or water. The floor of the house, and of numerous cages and containers, were all soiled with urine and faeces. Some dogs were in cages designed for rabbits and guinea pigs. The 32 dogs were taken to the RSPCA in Malaga, where vet checks revealed several issues.

These included a serious heart murmur in an eight-week-old shih-tzu crossbreed puppy named Doc; an older female Maltese terrier crossbreed named Maddison who was underweight and dirty, had conjunctivitis and a bloody vulval discharge; and a two-year-old cavalier King Charles crossbreed named Annalise, who also had a bloody vulval discharge and a urinary tract infection.

Nearly all the dogs had ear infections and/or dental disease and were filthy, many with matted, overgrown hair. Some were found to have been provided with insufficient food and water, some had harmful parasites in their faeces, and some were in pain that could have been alleviated with proper vet care.


            Dogs Lilly and Fifi on arrival at RSPCA WA

Five of the dogs were pregnant and gave birth to a total of 22 puppies over the next several weeks.

Two of the dogs and puppies did not survive—the rest have been in RSPCA WA foster care while the case proceeded.

RSPCA WA Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations Hannah Dreaver said the offender was operating a profit-driven business selling puppies and had obviously gone to great lengths to prioritise profits over welfare.

‘This included using several locations to hide this operation from both authorities and potential puppy buyers,’ she said.

‘This is a case of greed, pure and simple. This woman was breeding large numbers of dogs with absolutely no concern for their welfare, health or safety.

‘All were popular breeds selling for thousands of dollars. These dogs were making her a fortune and she was treating them as nothing more than money-making machines, having litter after litter without proper care.

‘Please, if you want to get a dog, consider adoption from the RSPCA or another reputable rescue organisation first. If you do decide to buy a puppy, never buy online and never buy sight unseen. Always meet your new puppy and its mum in the home where it’s being raised.’

The offender was previously sentenced for offences relating to animals in 2014, 2004 and 2000 for charges including cruelty to animals, fraud and forgery, hindering an inspector, and breaching an animal ban.


           Dogs Daniel and Penny in foster care with RSPCA WA

RSPCA WA thanked Dr Lyn Dunstan and staff of Bullsbrook Veterinary Centre for their assistance with the case, as well as the more than 50 foster carers who have cared for these dogs for nearly three years.

The RSPCA said this case highlighted the need for the recently passed Stop Puppy Farming legislation.