Cohuna ‘Puppy farm’ breeder fined

A breeder who kept dogs and puppies in faeces-filled cages, with no shade and no clean water, has been fined $6000.

Clara Buck appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates Court this week on a series of animal cruelty charges brought by the RSPCA.

RSPCA prosecutor Jason Nichols said a Gannawarra Shire Council ranger attended Buck’s Cohuna property on August 30 last year, after reports of several dogs living in poor conditions.

Mr Nichols said the ranger told Buck to improve the conditions, but return inspections on September 14 and October 18 showed little change.

He said border collies, kelpies and their pups were being housed with insufficient shelter in dirty cages with a “large faecal build-up” and dirty water.

A dying lamb was also found in a puppy crate, severely emaciated.

Mr Nichols said all of the injured and sick animals were later seized, including several puppies that were just one week old. Two died at the scene.

“Some of the dogs suffered from conjunctivitis, flea burn and malnourishment,” he said. “It should have been obvious to a layperson that the dogs were in poor condition and their housing was inadequate.”

Buck’s lawyer Alex McLennan said his client accepted responsibility for the neglect, which was the result of the extreme emotional and financial stress she was under at the time.

Mr McLennan said Buck’s problems started when her Kinglake home was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires.

He said Buck and her partner relocated to Cohuna, but their relationship broke down shortly after and the stress of subsequent legal proceedings had taken up a lot of Buck’s time.

“It got to the point where she could not properly look after the dogs, given her personal issues,” he said.

Magistrate Richard Wright said Buck’s treatment of the animals was “absolutely shocking”.

“You’re running some sort of puppy farm and most of the puppies are dead,” he said. 

“I have to send a strong message to dissuade you and others from this type of offending.”

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