RSPCA fury over puppy farms


02.cageFEMALE dogs kept in cages could be forced to breed for life after the State Government watered down moves to eliminate puppy factories.

Animal welfare group the RSPCA has savaged the Government over its changes to a new code for breeders, which took effect on Friday.

A draft version of the code, released in December, flagged new staff to animal ratios, a ban on wire floors for cages, and strict new breeding limits.

But RSPCA Victoria chief executive Maria Mercurio said “furtive” last-minute alterations had weakened some of the guidelines.

“The late amendments to the code allow female dogs to be bred for their entire lifetime, and veterinary checks of breeding dogs are non-compulsory,” she said.

The draft guidelines had included a specific limit on the number of times a dog could give birth.

“A female dog must have no more than 5 litters in her lifetime, after which she must be retired from breeding,” the draft said.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries last week advised animal protection groups that this had been changed slightly.

“Sufficiently healthy bitches now have the potential to continue breeding after their fifth litter, but only if an annual breeding clearance certificate for each individual bitch is obtained from a veterinary practitioner,” the letter says.

Another last-minute change meant “there is no longer a mandatory requirement for pre-mating and post-birthing veterinary health checks for all breeding female cats and dogs”.

Ms Mercurio said: “We are outraged that the Victorian Government has completely reneged on improving welfare for breeding animals, even after receiving more than 30,000 public submissions on the matter, and consulting a range of stakeholders”.

“Victorians need to be made aware of these major changes and of the free pass the Victorian Government has given puppy factories to continue their abhorrent practices,” she said.

Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said there had been “extensive input from animal professionals” in the development of the new code.

“This is the most comprehensive, prescriptive code of its kind in the world and there are hefty fines and penalties for breeders who do not comply,” he said.


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