Currently, there are no laws in Western Australia that regulate dog breeding, meaning that breeders are able to breed as many dogs as they like without undergoing mandatory health or genetic testing for breeding dogs.
However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has recently been working with the WA government to change this, by proposing the introduction of laws that will protect the dogs of Australia’s largest state.
The Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2019 is currently sitting before WA Parliament, and if enacted, will work to stop breeding circumstances getting out of hand when breeders lack the financial means or knowledge to properly care for their breeding animals and their offspring.
Some of the proposed changes within the Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2019 include the creation and implementation of a centralized dog registration system in the state of WA, as well as a strict and thorough approval process for those requesting to breed their dog/s.
The bill states that all non-breeding dogs in the state will need to be sterilized by the time they are two years old (unless they have gone through the approval process). For those who own an unsterilized dog, they can choose to not have their dog desexed, but they’ll need to obtain an ‘approval to breed’ exemption from their local council (even if they don’t actually intend to breed).
Livestock working dogs will be exempt from the sterilization at two years’ old rule, as this will give time for their owners to assess whether they have the genetic, health, and behavioral traits that are desirable (and required) for breeding well-rounded puppies. If livestock working dog owners do decide to breed their dogs, then they will need to go through the same approval process from their local council.
Commercial pet stores will only be able to sell dogs that have been sourced from state pounds and animal rescue groups, however, owners will still be able to get puppies directly from breeders and rescue groups. There will be new health and welfare standards for puppies being bred in facilities, so dog owners can be confident in the fact their puppy was raised in clean and healthy conditions of an acceptable animal welfare standard.
The proposed new laws will make dog breeders accountable for how their animals are treated whilst in their care. Whether it’s a breeding bitch, a newborn puppy, or an older dog, breeders will be expected to uphold the highest standards of care for their animals.
Many puppy farms currently breed dogs in horrific conditions, leaving elderly breeding mothers and newborn puppies in cramped cages with little access to food, water, socialization, or sunshine, as well as no regular exercise that’s so vital for an animal’s wellbeing.
As part of the Western Australia State Government’s commitment to stop puppy farming, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is now in the process of developing the new standards and guidelines for dog breeding, housing, husbandry, transport and sale that breeders will have to comply with under the new laws.
The new laws will also protect pet owners, as their dog will be able to be traced back to its breeder if a pre-existing health issue arises (as is common for brachycephalic dogs with shortened snouts such as Pugs and English Bulldogs). ‘Backyard’ puppy breeding will also be generally discouraged through being made harder, as every breeder will have to go through the approval process, and their demand for puppies from commercial pet stores will cease to exist.
The main way that you can support the ceasing of puppy farms is to ‘adopt not shop’! There are so many animals already needing homes in pounds and at animal rescue centers throughout the state of WA, so if you’re thinking of bringing a doggie friend into your life, then these places should be your first stop.
If (or hopefully when) the Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2019 gets enacted, there’s also likely to be an influx of older dogs in pounds, as breeders will be giving up the breeding dogs that they are no longer able to make financial gain from.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.