Serial puppy farmer given lifetime ban after 'cruel' $180,000 dog trade exposed

Many of the animals were expensive breeds like poodles and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.

After being busted hiding 50 dogs in a bunker three metres underground in 2014, a “serial puppy farmer” has faced court once again charged with 17 animal cruelty offences.

The Western Australian woman was found to be keeping dogs in "unhygienic and cramped" conditions and selling them on the popular online trading site Gumtree, which offers hundreds of live animal listings. She has now been banned from owning animals for life. The woman was prosecuted by the RSPCA who believes she was making $180,000 a year selling the animals.

Left - two officers open a hatch in the ground. Right - an officer carries a white dog out of the hole in the ground.
The woman has been sentenced four times, including in 2014 when 50 dogs were found in an underground bunker. Source: RSPCA

Many of the rescued animals were expensive, luxury breeds like poodles, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and shih-tzus. It’s the 51-year-old’s fourth cruelty conviction. Details of the dogs' welfare are confronting, prompting a plea to peoople to stop buying dogs online.

How were the expensive dogs being housed?

Dogs were found stuffed inside steel cages and plastic containers soiled with faeces and urine, after a public tip-off launched an RSPCA investigation in 2020. Rescuers described the conditions as “unhygienic, cramped and untidy”. They seized 32 dogs, including nine puppies, with most of them sick, underweight or dishevelled.

After the rescue, five dogs were found to be pregnant and they gave birth to 22 puppies. Two of the animals did not survive.

What other penalties will the offender face?

Tuesday’s decision comes after the offender was convicted in December. During her trial, the court was told she attempted to hide evidence by moving the dogs between properties in Bullsbrook.

The offender faced court from custody, where she has been kept since April 14 for breaching her bail conditions. While the Perth Magistrates Court handed down a 10-month prison sentence, it suspended it for 18 months. She was ordered to pay $24,279 in legal costs and a further $18,241 for care and treatment of the reduced dogs.

Has my state cracked down on puppy farming?

“A case of greed, pure and simple,” is how Hannah Dreaver from the RSPCA described the offender’s operations.

Left - inside the dark room where the dogs were held. Three dogs can be seen in the background. Right - one of the rescued dogs - a Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
Many of the dogs rescued in 2020 were expensive breeds. Source: RSPCA

‘All were popular breeds selling for thousands of dollars,” she said. “These dogs were making her a fortune and she was treating them as nothing more than money-making machines, having litter after litter without proper care.”

The RSPCA is strongly opposed to puppy farming. Victoria was the first state to ban the practice, and Western Australia has also passed legislation cracking down on the problem. NSW, Queensland and Tasmania continue to collect tax revenue from allowing farmers to openly trade in puppies and kittens.

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