A Bill to protect animals from harm should be altered to enable registered breeders to be exempt from certain laws, a Victorian Liberal MP says.
The new laws proposed by the Victorian government will put tighter restrictions on breeders to fight back against unethical puppy farms, where animals are often mistreated.
Hastings MP Neale Burgess told The Newsroom he expects parts of the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Bill 2016 “will be wiped away” as hearings enter their second week.
The restrictions, for the first time, will also apply to registered breeders of purebred dogs, and some say they’ll be forced to quit the industry.
Addressing a crowd of Shetland Sheepdog enthusiasts in Somerville in Melbourne’s south-east, Mr Burgess said ethical registered breeders of purebreds shouldn’t be included as puppy farmers and backyard breeders.
He added the proposed changes would be good for everyone.
“I think that everybody will like what the recommendations will be because they are based on common sense,” he said.
The cost of registering to operate a Domestic Animal Business and creating an outdoor facility is too expensive said Kerry Walls, former president of the not-for-profit Shetland Sheepdog Club of Victoria Inc.
“I know so many breeders who have said ‘I will have to quit’,” Ms Walls told The Newsroom.
Keeping the pampered pets outdoors in kennels would be a change from sleeping in their owner’s beds and lounging on couches all day. The kennels would be required to have heating, cooling and whelping boxes for when a dog is ready to give birth. However, Ms Walls said she prefers to have her animals inside when it’s time to give birth.
“We do it for the love of the breed, not for the money,” she said.
Anne Jones, a breeder of British Shorthair cats, said it’s important to understand the difference between an ethical registered breeder and a backyard breeder.
“By attacking us and putting us at the same level, it’s more than an insult. It’s heartbreaking,” she told The Newsroom.
Hearings for the bill are continuing in the Victorian Parliament after the government suffered severe backlash over the proposed amendments.
Wayne Fleming, President of Dogs Victoria said in a statement: “While we cannot support this Bill in its current form, we continue to extend our full support in working with the government and the sector on a transparent regulatory framework that meets both community expectations and ensures Dogs Victoria breeders can continue to breed healthy, well socialised puppies for loving homes.”
A petition calling for an “evidence-based approach to issues around animal welfare and the pet industry” has attracted more than 11,000 signatures. – Melissah Dierickx-Bosmans
Photo by Melissah Dierickx-Bosmans