Another puppy farm in Victoria has finally been raided after six years of complaints over the horrendous living conditions of the farm’s dogs.
The RSPCA and Victoria Police worked in tandem to remove nearly 120 live dogs and puppies, as well as the bodies of four dead dogs, from a Longwood puppy farm owned by registered show-dog breeder Heather Healey. The RSPCA also took six cats into its care.
Healey, who is a former secretary of the Chihuahua Club of Victoria and manages the Euroa Kennel Club, is known to be active in the show-dog community.
“All of the animals were taken into care because of immediate and serious concerns for their welfare,” said a spokesperson for RSPCA Victoria. “They were allegedly found to be living in small cages and squalid conditions, both inside and outside the residences. Veterinarians attending the premises also identified a number of health and husbandry concerns.”
While the raid only took place this month, Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV) conducted a hidden camera exposé on Healey back in 2010 after hearing that Strathbogie Council had ignored complaints.
The footage from that operation revealed dogs packed together in dirty wire cages and cots.
Stephanie Rodda, a member of the team who completed the sting, told The Age that the dogs’ living conditions had made her break down and weep. She said the dogs showed only desperation or fear, begging to be held or cowering in fear by turns.
“When I entered the house the first thing I noticed was the constant barking of many dogs and mess everywhere … I felt dizzy from the odour,” Rodda said.
“They do not get let out of these pens for the duration of their whole life.”
Kate Hallam, a veterinary nurse who visited Healey with the intention of purchasing a dog, was disgusted by cramped cots which sometimes held as many as eight dogs sitting in their own filth.
“The conditions that we witnessed were truly horrendous,” she said.
“The dogs were forced to sit, sleep and live in their own faeces and urine. Only one cage actually had a bowl with water in it. I was horrified by what I was seeing.”
“The lack of space, water, exercise, veterinary attention, environmental stimulation, hygiene and most of all care, that I saw was in every way wrong.”
At the time of the 2010 raid, ALV managed to purchase three dogs that were in the worst health. The animals were then treated at Melbourne University’s vet clinic.
ALV founder Patty Mark was glad that their dire warnings had finally been heeded but was angry that it had taken so long.
“It’s a very frustrating situation,” Ms Mark said. “There is a lot of heat on the RSPCA because they failed to act over and over again.”
This article previously stated that Heather Healy is the secretary of the Chihuahua Club of Victoria however she no longer holds that post.