One of the French bulldogs that was found in a puppy farm raid by the RSPCA. Picture: RSPCA Queensland
One of the French bulldogs that was found in a puppy farm raid by the RSPCA. Picture: RSPCA Queensland

Help stamp out puppy farms, report suspect online sales

UPDATE 12.30am: LAST week, the NSW Government announced funding to help the RSPCA stamp out non-compliant animal breeding.

Local animal rescue groups and the RSPCA called for an end to puppy farms that kept animals in appalling conditions and urged buyers of puppies to be vigilant.

Online seller Gumtree has joined those organisations in encouraging buyers to report suspect breeders.

The organisation said it had put measures in place to protect people who were buying pets on its site, and encouraged anyone who encountered a suspect breeder to report them.

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The organisation said in a statement it operates its pet category under the Gumtree Pets Code of Practice, "which includes guidelines on essential information for animal listings, additional policies for various breeders, as well as federal and state-specific policies".

The statement reads:

"As a community marketplace, we constantly endeavour to support responsible trading and better protect animals. To discourage casual animal trading and deter illegal operators we have introduced a mandatory insertion fee within our pets category across all pets and animal listings.

"The new insertion fee was implemented as an additional measure, following extensive consultation with animal welfare groups, including the RSPCA. The insertion fee does not apply to registered local animal welfare organisations and shelters who are able to continue using Gumtree to help place animals in safe and loving homes, without incurring any undue cost.

"We also work on a report and take-down process and encourage users to use the 'Report Ad' function to flag any concerning ads that breach our policies, terms of use, or those believed to be unlawful so that we can help keep the site safe for everyone.

"Gumtree continues to encourage users to consult RSPCA guidance and Gumtree's Guide to Responsible Pet Ownership on how to identify good homes for animals, including animal care questions".


Original story, Monday: A SMALL dog lies locked in a small filthy crate barely bigger than a suitcase.

She doesn't know how to play and never interacts with other dogs.

She has worms, and untreated injuries, and she's almost always pregnant.

This is the life of a female dog on a puppy farm - it's appalling, and it could be happening in your town.

Why do the owners do it?

For the money, says Suzanne Lavis, manager of Animal Rights and Rescue in Lismore.

"Puppy farms are everywhere," she said. "They are asking for thousands of dollars, and you don't even know if they are purebred."

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Ms Lavis said dogs at puppy farms are usually kept in "dreadful" conditions, with a female dog often bred long after the regulated age of five years.

She said as well as encouraging the practice, people buying puppies from these sellers cannot be certain they are getting what they paid for, with people often realising the purebred they paid for wasn't what they got.

Ms Lavis said small dog breeds particularly, are in high demand, and puppy farmers are cashing in.

"People are told their new dog is a Shih tzu, and it grows up to not be a Shih tzu, it's something else," she said.

She said a good breeder will let you come to the place where the dogs are kept and let you see the mother and father. She said you should be able to choose the pup you want, and they must be microchipped.

"It is illegal for anyone to give away or sell a dog without a microchip."

But how do you know you are buying from a legitimate breeder? It's not always easy to tell.

A quick glance at Gumtree shows a long list of puppies for sale, complete with breeder numbers.

They look legitimate, but are they?

There are at least five different registers listing breeders, in just five ads - to name a few, the Australian Kennel Council, Dogs NSW, and the Australian Association of Dog Breeders.

It makes confirming the number on the advertisement difficult.

One listing from the Northern Rivers has a puppy for sale for $5000. It looks legitimate, and looks like he's from a good home, but the breeder number doesn't check out.

If the owner has lied about being a legitimate breeder, how can you be sure the puppy you've just paid $5000 for is actually a purebred poodle, or Shih tzu?

RSPCA Australia has called for the regulation of the breeding, supply and sale of companion animals to help set minimum standards and stamp out puppy farms and offers guidelines to buying a pet.

Last week, the NSW Government announced additional funding to address animal welfare concerns in the industry.

The funds will go to RSPCA NSW's Breeder Compliance Unit, a specialised arm of the organisation's Inspectorate dedicated to investigating inadequate conditions and standards at intensive dog breeding facilities.

MORE STORIES: Puppy farms raided after pregnant dog dies

"This is a huge win for animal welfare, as well as for breeders across the state who love and look after their animals," said RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman.

"Every day we face the dark side of the animal breeding industry, where profits are put above an animal's welfare. Countless animals come through our doors in appalling condition and suffering from health and behavioural problems.

"This funding will help us double down on cruelty of this nature. The message is loud and clear; it will not be tolerated."

The Animal Rights Party says not enough is being done to make puppy farms illegal in NSW.

"We have a Code of Practice for Breeding Dogs and Cats, but it is not enforced, and the industry is largely self-regulated," the group's website says.

They say due to the covert nature of puppy farms, it is difficult to put a number how many there are, but estimate there are upwards of 200 in NSW.



Warning signs

• Buying a dog online or from an ad without seeing the dog

• A seller wants to deliver the dog at a location away from where it was bred

• You can't see the mother or father

• A person is selling the dog on the behalf of someone else

• The seller wants to deliver the dog via an animal courier, sight unseen

• The dog is not microchipped or vaccinated

• Puppies being given away too young.


What to do when buying a dog

• Visit your local animal rescue shelter

• Go through a registered breeder, not just a registered business

• Ask a vet to recommend a good breeder

• Go to the breeder's home, or where the dogs are kept/bred

• Ask to see the puppy's mother and father

• Make sure the dog is microchipped, and preferably vaccinated

• Report a puppy farm to the RSPCA or the police.

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