‘Dog Amendment Bill’ or dog’s breakfast?

Legislation that could put an end to unregulated puppy farming in WA is in the final stages of passing through the WA Parliament.

The Dog Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced in the State’s Lower House in February, and needs just one more round of approval in the Upper House before it becomes law.

The Bill states anyone wishing to keep a non-sterilised dog must register as a licensed breeder. Local councils will have the power to approve or deny these licenses but once approved they will never have to be renewed.   

The proposed legislation has some critics who believe the policies will do more harm than good.

Dogs West Canine Association member Talita Radin said the Bill allowed puppy farmers to operate under the guise of being legitimate breeders.  

 “There is no stipulation for a maximum amount of litters, the age of the breeding dog, health testing, conditions in which the dogs are kept or education of the breeders,” she said. 

The Australian National Kennel Council is the national peak body for registered breeding and responsible dog ownership, however, it is not mentioned in the Bill.

Ms Radin said: “Stripping knowledgeable and ethical organisations of their authority to police allows people who do the wrong thing to continue doing it without repercussions.” 

She said ANKC registered breeders were educated and passionate about their breeds, conduct frequent health testing, raised pups in their homes instead of kennels and were selective when it comes to choosing potential families.

ANKC registered breeder Irene Levitske said the proposed legislation would not stop puppy farming and would make it harder for breeders who uphold the Dogs West and ANKC Code of Ethics to persevere.   

“Local councils who do not have the time or resources to deal with breeder registrations can and will simply decline all applications,” she said.

Ms Radin said several local councils, including her own, had already stated they would not be approving any breeder licenses if the proposed legislation came into effect, meaning legitimate breeders in those areas were at risk of being shut down.

Despite these complaints, the Bill continues to make progress in Parliament and has the support of some animal shelters and rescue organisations.    

Dogs’ Refuge Home WA president Karen Rhodes said the effects of puppy farming were devastating and the Bill was a much needed start for tackling the issue.

“We see rescue dogs who have been subject to puppy farming or other corrupt acts and they have extremely harmful effects,” she said.

“Puppy farming needs to stop, so I definitely think the Bill is a positive start to that.” 

Parliamentary deliberation is set to continue in the Upper House in the coming months.

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