Potential dog owners are being urged to consider adoption instead of buying a new pet following a spate of illegal puppy farms popping up across Australia.
RSPCA has released shocking photos of mistreated animals found across Western Australia, where there have been almost 800 reports of puppies being subjected to cruelty this year alone — all believed to be associated with backyard breeding farms.
Such conditions make dogs and their puppies susceptible to a range of health issues including heart disease, extreme difficulty breathing, anxiety, complete shutdown, skeletal issues, and skin allergies.
Since January, RSPCA WA has stamped out three long-running cases where dogs had been living in "filthy" conditions for the purpose of breeding and making money. They all involved "desirable" breeds including Maltese shih-tzus, poodles, cavalier King Charles spaniels, labradoodles and French bulldogs which all "sell for thousands of dollars", RSPCA WA CEO Ben Cave said.
"These cases all involved dogs living in squalor, being bred time and again to make a profit, with no regard for their health, or the health of their puppies," he added.
Perth woman fined $25,000 over animal cruelty charges
In January, a 51-year-old woman from Bullsbrook, Perth, was convicted on 17 charges of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to 10 months prison and fined $25,000. The RSPCA estimates the woman was making "at least $180,000 a year from selling puppies".
"The dogs were living in unhygienic, cramped, and untidy conditions, with the majority inside small steel cages and plastic carrier crates," the RSPCA said. Thirty-two dogs, including four adult males, 19 adult females and nine puppies were seized from the property.
The puppy farmer was reported by a member of the public, who had responded to a Gumtree ad and become suspicious when told they couldn’t visit the dog in its home. "We are asking the public to please help us stamp out unethical breeders like her by following a few simple rules," Mr Cave said.
Rise in dog thefts for profit
There's also been an increase in dog thefts with a growing black market for dogs being sold online. In March, a Perth couple were devastated when their $4000 French bulldog was stolen from their home.
Pamela Campbell, president of Dogs West, agreed French bulldogs are often sold at "very high prices" and "most often very well above the price asked by reputable Dogs Australia registered breeders."
"A stolen French bulldog puppy could then become a valuable commodity, either for onselling or to be kept for breeding, likely at the earliest opportunity," she told Yahoo News Australia.
How you can help
The RSPCA has warned Aussies against believing they are "rescuing" a puppy from a suspect seller, insisting it just "increases the breeder's profits and increases demand". Instead, people should consider adopting a dog in need of a home.
WA shelters and rescue groups are currently overrun with dogs of varying breeds, sizes and ages.
"The cost-of-living pressures and housing squeeze has led to an increase in surrenders and abandonments and there are so many dogs needing a loving home," Mr Cave said.
If you do buy a new puppy there are some things to remember:
Never buy online and never buy sight unseen.
Always meet your new puppy and its mum in the home where the puppy is being raised.
If the seller refuses or wants to meet in a neutral location, call the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline.
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