Every dog has its day

The sharp rise in demand for purebred puppies in WA since COVID lockdowns began contrasts with the many homeless dogs left in refuge shelters.

Francesca staying in an enclosure at Shenton Park Dog Refuge. Photo: Tom Shanahan.

Demand is such police are warning of a rise in dog-related scams.

Shenton Park Dog Refuge president Karen Rhodes says she finds it incredibly frustrating how dogs from breeding centres continue to be purchased.

“Owning a dog is a privilege not a right, so it is not fair that a dog is bred to be aesthetically pleasing for someone,” she says.

Rookie waiting for a home. Photo: Tom Shanahan.

She says thousands of dogs who are uncared for will have their lives ended because they have not been adopted.

“The euthanasia rates in Australia are really high, there are well over 100,000 dogs that are euthanised every year,” she says.

“These are healthy dogs that have done nothing wrong other than they are overbred in the first place.”

Karen Rhodes discussing the fate of dogs who can’t find homes. Tom Shanahan.

The WA government announced in February it will be working on legislation to ban breeding farms but Ms. Rhodes says banning puppy farming in WA is really just the start.

“Unfortunately, there are plenty of puppy farms in the eastern states and those puppies will still get shipped across to WA to be sold in pet shops.”

She says though there are many unethical puppy farms in WA, there are plenty of responsible dog breeders in the state.

Psychologist Tania Signal says many purebred dog buyers are not considering the wellbeing of their dog before purchasing them.

She also works at the Central Queensland Animal Society Link – an association which helps find families for homeless dogs.

She says people who have never owned a dog are starting to purchase puppies this year to help deal with loneliness during the pandemic.

“Dogs are great for our mental health and our wellbeing because of the unconditional positive regard and companionship they give us.”

Professor Signal says the risks of purchasing a dog from a breeding farms are much higher because people don’t see the conditions in which the puppy was raised.

“If you are getting a dog from a puppy mill not only are you supporting an abusive practice, you are more likely to get an animal that is sick,” she says.

Diomede Kennels owner and dog breeder Delia Wells says she recommends purebreds over mixed breed dogs because owners would be aware of the temperament and history of the breed.

Delia Wells discussing the benefits of owning a purebred dog. Tom Shanahan

Ms Wells says her puppy breeding facility is a registered member of DogsWest, an association promoting responsible breeding practices.

“We have very stringent rules by which we breed by, we are not allowed to do things like brother-sister mating anymore or father-daughter.

“Whereas a puppy farm is a place where dogs are bred for money in horrific conditions,” she says.

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