Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee
Attending CAWSEL 2017 and learning more about animal welfare concepts, principles of ethics in animal use and animal law, has further equipped me to work doggedly on reforms to improve animal welfare. One such area for reform is the regulation of dog breeding in our state.
Puppy farms, also known as puppy mills, are intensive dog breeding operations where dogs suffer unbearably in terrible conditions. Sadly, puppy farms have long been making headlines in different parts of the world including the UK and Australia. Though they may not all make the headlines, there are many dogs who are left with lifelong physical and emotional scars as a result of irresponsible and indiscriminate dog breeding more broadly. The emotional and financial toll on the dogs’ families is also profound. All too often, due to lack of regulation in the dog breeding industry, the people responsible are not held accountable. This must change. Governments around the world are introducing laws to regulate dog breeding and improve the welfare of dogs.
Since attending CAWSEL 2017, on behalf of the organisation I work for, I have been providing input on proposed ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in our state. The four main components of the reforms include:
(1) a centralised state database for dog breeders
(2) desexing of dogs (unless they belong to a breeder on the centralised state database)
(3) pet shops only able to rehome dogs via accredited rescue organisations and
(4) mandatory animal welfare standards for dogs.
Together, these reforms aim to increase traceability and accountability in dog breeding, reduce over-breeding and the number of dogs in shelters, interrupt the supply chains fuelling puppy farming and improve dog welfare overall.
Hopefully together, we can make legal history for dogs. The ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in Western Australia are currently out for public consultation until August 3: www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/stoppuppyfarming