Weekly Times Now

February 8, 2012

LEGISLATION to deal with puppy farms casts too wide a net, writes CHRIS McLENNAN

Even the smallest towns will have a hastily scrawled sign stuck to the inside of a cafe or garage window with that familiar introduction “Free to good home”.

They are about as common as the roster for the weekly fire truck run, or the footy team list that coaches freshen up each Thursday in the winter.

They are not exclusive to the country and are just as obvious at the entrance to the suburban supermarket.

The neighbour’s tomcat has jumped the fence again, an eager dog has been seduced by its instincts.

More pups, more kittens. Cute when young but uncontrollable in any number.

Three weeks ago those familiar signs were basically outlawed.

No one has been busted yet for putting one up but the authorities have tracked a pit bull seller on the internet.

“Sorry, it was a mistake,” he told them.

Sure thing.

Consider the widow down the road with probably her last companion in life, the cat that keeps her lap warm over the long winters but dallies with the tom in the spring.

She doesn’t want the litter and the shop has always been helpful with a little notice in the window.

The widow is now a crook.

Opinions differ about her criminality depending on who you talk to.

The laws may allow some latitude about the inclusion of microchip details for free pets but there is no such luck on the microchips, they are compulsory.

Before our widow gives away her kittens, she must also hand over the microchip certificate.

Registered animal breeders and operators of animal shelters have little sympathy for these accidents of nature. If the widow doesn’t want to pay the $20-$30 to microchip each kitten before she can give them away, she should have at least de-sexed the mother.

Out on the farms, dog breeders are worried about new rules about such things as concrete floors on runs without having to think about the additional cost of travelling to vets for microchips.

Many working dog breeders are a transient lot, moving from farm to farm.

“Our dogs are mainly bred by working people on stations,” one Kelpie breeder told us.

It makes more sense for the regulations to include some allowance for relocatable yards rather than fixed pens.

Working dog breeders also defend their use of tattoos rather than microchips and point to the multi-generational records held by their breed organisations.

Once they receive some help with the adoption of a formal code of ethics there seems little practical reason the breed organisations cannot be afforded the same recognition as Dogs Victoria in these new laws.

Very few people believe new laws are not needed.

Puppy farms are a horror.

People need to be responsible for their pets.

But perhaps an amnesty is not such a bad idea until the community is better educated.

It also make sense to consider an exemption for working dogs as other states have done.



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