Australia is a nation of animal lovers: 63 percent are pet owners; 40 percent own dogs and spending nearly $3billion a year according to the Australian Companion Animal Council. We even have an annual dog friendly music festival in Melbourne, Dogapalooza.
However, we’re deeply naive to the atrocious undergoing’s of puppy trade as 53% of Australians will buy their puppies from pet stores, blind-sided to the fact that 95% of these puppies have been bred in factories and farms. These underground businesses are set up in rural remote areas, where breed dogs are maliciously treated. The life span of breed dogs are viciously short, spanning from 3-4 years and forced to start breeding as early as 6 months and killed once they are no longer able to reproduce. Litter of puppies are then given a quick wash, rubbed with talcum powder to cover the filth and sent to pet shops. Pet owners, when making their purchase, won’t think twice about it until unexpected problems arise.
What you see in the shop window isn’t necessarily what you get; behavioural problems lead to euthanised puppies as they are stripped away from a too early age, only four or five weeks. This lack of time socialising in the pack hinders the development of important canine skills, leading to signs of aggression and anxiety as early as week into being purchased. Common illnesses; neurological problems, eye problems, hip dysplasia and blood disorders are at a high risk since they are not the results of careful breeding; mother’s live and die in appalling conditions, suffering from mites, mange and flesh-eating infections. On top of that, puppies are given little care until they are purchased. The worst part is that the likelihood of facing such problems is common. And while most pet stores offer a return policy, many customers are not aware of their puppy’s fate; which is usually to be put down.
The state of puppy factories is despicable; filled with the stench of rotting flesh, faeces and urine-soaked floors. In cages are shivering dogs, some walking aimlessly in circles and others near-death, unable to even walk at all. Here, in what feels like the depths of hell, lies the merciless tales of animal cruelty. Unsupervised breeding leading to broken penises and mauled dogs, psychotic breed dogs resorting to maternal cannibalism eating their newborn puppies, intense inbreeding of puppies resulting to congenital disorders, and the lack of kindly human contact or socialisation with other dogs. Their likelihood of rescue is dismal and their chances of living are miniscule.
Oscar was one of a number of dogs rescued in 2010 from a puppy factory in central Victoria, who were neglected to the point where they required urgent veterinary care.
“He was a stud dog who never left the cage and was presented with different female dogs everyday to impregnate them.” Spoke Debra Tranter (Oscar’s rescuer and pet owner)
Oscar was found with severe matting to the point where he needed to be sedated in order to shave his fur. He was severely malnourished; grossly underweight and had skin like paper. He had an ear infection, gum disease and rotten teeth. Despite the horrific discovery, Oscar was returned by authorities to the very people who failed to provide veterinary care with no animal cruelty charges pressed against them. Due to the loopholes in legislation puppy farms are thriving; speaking volumes of how weak animal protections laws are. After an ordeal of evasion duly on Debra’s part, Oscar was able to reunite with humanity and survive. However, there are still thousands of Oscar’s hidden away on factory farms. To this day, Debra has been campaigning for Oscar’s Law, making incremental but significant changes in legislation. Her mission is clear- “effectively cease puppy farms” by; “banning, the sale of pet shops in Victoria and turn them into adoption centres where rescue groups can showcase their rescue dogs. Put a cap on the number of dogs resided in puppy factories to only 10 female dogs and ultimately change the way our pets are kept, bred and sold.”
So where does this leave Australian animal lovers?
Below are a set of guidelines to take action as advised from Oscar himself:
Choose not to purchase anything from a shop that sells animals.
Choose not to purchase puppies over the internet from online trading sites.
Promote rescue organisations and shelters as the first option to adopting.
Lobby your local MP and let them know that you will not tolerate puppy factories.
Lastly and most importantly, knowledge is power; the pet industry does not want you to know the truth behind the pet shop window. So the most powerful way you can help is to tell everyone you know that dogs are factory farmed to supply pet shops and online trading sites.