Crackdown on puppy farms

 RESCUE: RSCPA shelter supervisor Mark Goodwin, Jacinta Allan and her daughter Peggy Piper pat Jake the dog, who is up for adoption. Picture: PETER WEAVING

RESCUE: RSCPA shelter supervisor Mark Goodwin, Jacinta Allan and her daughter Peggy Piper pat Jake the dog, who is up for adoption. Picture: PETER WEAVING

THE Victorian Labor Party has announced it will crack down on puppy farms if elected to power in November.

Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan made the announcement on Friday at Bendigo's RSPCA.

Ms Allan said Labor would give the RSPCA an additional $5 million over four years to fund a squad of inspectors to audit breeders.

The party would also amend the dog breeding Code of Practice to ensure female dogs could have no more than five litters and reinstate mandatory vet checks.

"In 2010 Denis Napthine promised to deal with rogue puppy farms, with new codes regulating the treatment of breeding animals," Ms Allan said.

"Yet their Code of Practice released in April removed clauses aimed at protecting breeding dogs and removed limits on litters that had originally been circulated in the government's draft code."

But Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Labor Party failed to improve the plight of dogs and puppies when it was in power.

"Jacinta Allan is misleading Bendigo by saying Labor stands up for animal welfare because during 11 years in government, Jacinta Allan and her Labor colleagues did nothing to crack down on puppy farms.

"In contrast, in just three years the Victorian Coalition government has introduced the toughest breeding code and the highest penalties in Australia: fines of up to $35,000 for individuals and $86,000 for breeding businesses that don't comply."

The RSPCA expressed dismay when the Code of Practice was released in April, with chief executive Maria Mercurio telling Fairfax Media her organisation was extremely disappointed with it.

"The code that we thought was coming into effect limited the number of litters to five ... which is the key element in stamping out puppy farms," she said.

"Otherwise, we end up back just where we started – with dogs that are confined for their entire lives and used as breeding machines."

The code, as it now stands, allows female dogs to birth more than five litters if a veterinarian confirms the dog is fit to continue breeding.

Prior to 2012, when the government significantly increased penalties, the maximum fine for an individual breeder operating an unregistered puppy farm was $1195.

The fine for this offence is now $23,097.

Individual breeders that do not comply with the code can be fined up to $35,000 and businesses that do not comply can be fined up to $86,000. 

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