The State Government has announced the Level 1 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package.
Firstly, I would like to express my appreciation for the response generated by the community on this issue. I am very encouraged by the community’s willingness to engage with the McGowan Government’s plan to stop puppy farming and ensure the
policy measures achieve the best possible outcome for our dogs, and our community.
This project would not have been possible without a significant contribution of time, knowledge and effort from key stakeholders. I would like to thank Lisa Baker MLA, who has devoted herself to this project as Chair of the Stop Puppy Farming Implementation
Working Group and has been a champion for change for animal welfare in Western Australia.
The response has required the cooperation of multiple Government agencies. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is working to ensure appropriate standards are developed to address the concerns raised.
The State Government is incorporating the feedback received into the Stop Puppy Farming policy. With your feedback, we are confident of delivering changes that will ensure the welfare of our pets and put an end to the despicable practice of puppy farming.
I would like to recognise the following members of the Implementation Working Group for their contribution. The knowledge and experience provided by these individuals has been invaluable in assisting the McGowan Government in formulating the proposed
Hon David Templeman MLAMinister for Local Government
I am delighted to see the continued strong support of Western Australians for the McGowan Government’s proposals to stop puppy farming and improve the overall wellbeing of our canine friends.
In Western Australia now, dog breeding is totally unregulated and there are not even minimum standards for keeping a dog. Anyone can breed as many pups they choose and many dog breeding scenarios throughout the State fit the definition of a puppy farm.
Quite simply, a puppy farm is any dog breeding facility, big or small, which does not meet the welfare needs of the dogs bred and raised there.
Unplanned litters are common and puppies are often sold to pet shops or advertised online, too often with little or no proper information about them being given to purchasers. Others may be dumped and, if they survive, roam as strays, before being impounded
by local councils where they risk being destroyed if unclaimed. Genetic faults resulting from indiscriminate or unplanned breeding may not become apparent until later and new owners may face massive vet bills for corrective surgery or the heartbreaking
decision to euthanise their new pet to save it from a life of pain and suffering.
I have personally seen many sad and distressing situations resulting from puppy farming and heard of even more. That is why, for more than six years, I have worked to develop a plan for legislative reforms to stop the overbreeding of dogs in unregulated
backyard operations in Western Australia. At the same time, the reforms will encourage and reward good dog management and breeding practices.
My work on this issue began to take shape in 2012 when WA Labor State Conference passed a resolution to stop puppy farming. Following the conference, I started work with a team of key stakeholders to produce the first ever research paper on puppy farming
in Western Australia. Our paper, titled “Puppy farming in WA - what is it and why it needs to stop,’ was released in 2015. It formed the basis of a plan to introduce legislative reforms which was presented to the Western Australian community
as a pre-election pledge by WA Labor during the 2017 State election campaign.
Following the election of the McGowan Government, the Stop Puppy Farming Implementation Working Group was established, coordinated by the Department of Local Government and overseen by the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. David Templeman MLA. I
have been privileged to Chair the Group for the past 12 months and, during this time, I have listened to and worked with vets, dog breeders, pet shops, rangers, dog trainers and rescue and rehoming groups and we have collaborated to refine the reforms
necessary to improve dog welfare.
Early in 2018, the proposed reforms were publicised and Western Australians were invited to submit comments during a public consultation period between 3 May 2018 and 3 August 2018. The response was overwhelming with 4,754 submissions received.
The public feedback shows 93% of Western Australians support mandatory standards for dog breeding, husbandry, transport and sale. Mandatory de-sexing is supported by 77% and 83% support a centralised registration system to enable dogs to be traced. Pet
shops becoming adoption centres for dogs needing a second chance to find a loving home is supported by 61%.
Over the past six years I have never doubted the WA community wants to see legislative reforms to stop puppy farming and improve dog welfare. I am extremely proud of the work we have done culminating in the reforms we have put forward and I thank you
for the steadfast support you have shown every step of the way.
I look forward to working with you as we take the next step of drafting legislation ready for the WA Parliament in 2019.
In the meantime, please do what you can to help by choosing your new canine friend from registered dog breeders or adopt through a reputable rehoming shelter.
Hon Lisa Baker MLAMember for Maylands
Dogs are an important part of our lives; they are our friends and companions. In some cases, they play an important role in helping us, whether by working on farms, working as assistance dogs, or just by giving us emotional comfort and companionship.
We love our dogs, and we want them to be healthy and happy.
Currently, dog breeding in WA is not regulated. Over the past few years, the community has raised concerns about the breeding of dogs, including concerns about the practice of ‘puppy farming’. The RSPCA defines ‘puppy farming’
an intensive dog breeding facility that fails to meet the dog’s behavioural, social and/or physiological needs.
Puppy farming can also be known as ‘puppy mills’ or ‘puppy factories’. Other States in Australia have adopted various laws to help regulate dog breeding and stop puppy farming.
The WA State Government is looking to ensure puppy farming is prevented and stopped in WA by introducing the following proposals:
The proposals have the potential to affect a large number of Western Australians in a multitude of ways.
As such, the Government has sought to consult the WA community to better understand the ways each proposal could potentially affect different stakeholders. It has been important to seek feedback from across the State as issues can vary from region to
region, and in a State as large as WA, these differences can be significant.
Consultation on the proposals was held from 3 May 2018 to 3 August 2018. The following report provides an overview of the consultation and what was learnt.
I can’t begin to tell you the joy my dog has brought to my life. By walking him at least twice a day I have broadened my friendships as we all meet at the dog exercise park where our dogs socialise together with their owners… He has changed
my life completely and I don’t know what I would do without him.Anonymous (dog owner)
The department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (the department) released the Stop Puppy Farming Consultation Paper on 3 May 2018. The Consultation Paper provided information on the proposals and what the introduction of the proposals
would potentially mean for different stakeholders.
Interested parties could provide feedback on the proposals in a variety of ways:
The department received 4754 submissions; a testament to the importance of dogs in the lives of Western Australians and the strong will of the community to end this inhumane practice.
Prior to the consultation period, the department formed the Stop Puppy Farming ImplementationWorking Group (SPFIWG) to help inform the proposed policy measures. This group has been chairedby Lisa Baker MLA and consists of representatives from
a variety of stakeholder organisations.
These organisations each have a unique and important interest in the welfare and management ofdogs in Western Australia. The Government gained insights and knowledge from these stakeholdersto help inform the consultation on the proposals.
During the consultation period:
Under this proposal, the Dog Act 1976 would be amended so that pet shops would only be able to source puppies and dogs from State Government accredited rescue organisations or shelters. These dogs will undergo health and behavioural assessments to ensure
that they are suitable to join their new families.
The following depicts the results from all submissions:
Some of the most common themes that were raised through comments and written submissionsincluded:
Some of the other issues and suggestions raised through comments and written submissionsincluded:
It would reduce the number of puppy mill bred animals, while at the same time increasing the chances of rescue animals being given a second chance in life.— Karin (dog owner)
Pet shops are a valuable source of knowledge when it comes to the many different breeds and cross breeds of dogs. Pet shops that sell puppies help guide people in selecting the right type of dog for their situation. Good pet shops ensure that their puppies
come from ethical breeders.— David (pet shop owner)/Petition signed by 954 people
A pet shop should not stock or sell dogs or cats at all. This is not the best environment for any animal. Pet shops are also places where people are prone to impulse buy. A rescue dog needs patience and care and should not be bought on impulse.—
Elisa (dog breeder and Dogs West member)
…we have purchased two adoring dogs from… [a pet shop] in the last few years… These two dogs have become part of our family and I think that when people go into a pet shop they are expecting to see someone who might become part of
theirs too. As they say ‘A dog is a man’s best friend’ which I believe to be very true.— 11-year-old Abigail (dog owner)
Under this proposal, it will be mandatory for dogs to be de-sexed unless the dog is to be used for breeding purposes, or a veterinarian provides an exemption for health, behavioural or developmental reasons. Exemptions for other classes of dogs are also
There was great support for mandatory de-sexing and the positive effects that it may have. The most important of these effects was the reduction in the number of unwanted dogs that end up in shelters and rescues, and in some terrible circumstances, euthanised.
Other benefits highlighted during consultation were the tempering of aggression and reduction in negative behavioural traits such as roaming and marking.
The support for this provision was not as strong among those respondents who completed written submissions or filled out the public submission forms. Members of purebred dog association, Dogs West, represented a high percentage of respondents using these
methods and expressed great concern about this proposal.
The most prominent concern regarding this proposal was the age that a dog would need to be desexed, and the possible health impacts this may have on the dog. Consultation indicated that there is a growing body of evidence that early de-sexing may have
significant health impacts on dogs, especially in larger dogs. Many submissions indicated that whether and when a dog should be desexed should remain the decision of the owner in consultation with their vet.
This is essential. There are simply too many dogs many of whom have been bred to make money. The mother dogs are not looked after, lacking good nutrition and veterinary care, and are mated every time they come into season.— Megan (dog owner
and rescue volunteer)I support it; there are too many unauthorised pet breeders and accidental pregnancies, so it would get more control over pet breeders and give them more business.— Samuel (potential/future pet owner)
Mandatory de-sexing is a very blunt and inappropriate instrument to stop commercial and indiscriminate breeding and production of puppies. There is no evidence that mandatory desexing will ‘reach’ and stop the cruel puppy farming activities
of (those relatively few) horrible people who don’t love their dogs and just see their dogs as money making machines. I consider that de-sexing a dog or bitch is a decision for each owner in discussion with their vet.— Roni (Dogs
I am strongly opposed to mandatory de-sexing whether breeding stock or not. Mandatory desexing brings its own set of health and welfare issues and can be seriously detrimental to a dog’s health. Many studies have shown the adverse effects in relation
to diseases and behaviour caused by de-sexing. I also have a rarer breed and mandatory de-sexing would significantly reduce the already limited gene pool here in WA. Mandatory de-sexing is NOT going to stop puppy farming or stop dogs turning up in
— Michelle (dog breeder and Dogs West member)
The State Government has pledged to introduce a centralised registration system to ensure that every dog and puppy can be identified at the point of sale or adoption.
Currently, there are 137 local governments in Western Australia. Each local government is responsible for the control of dogs within their district, and each maintains their own register of these dogs. Consequently, there are 137 different dog registers
in WA, which makes information sharing and coordination very difficult. The centralised registration system would combine the information on each of these registers into a central register.
Feedback indicated that a potential benefit of the system was the improved ability to trace and identify dogs across local government boundaries. Many believed the system would improve information sharing, efficiency and transparency, and assist in monitoring
and identifying cases of non-compliance with the laws.
Many, even if they were supportive of the proposal, raised that there would be significant costs involved with developing and maintaining the system. Some argued that the system was not necessary as national microchip databases already exist and record
information to identify dogs across Australia. Others raised concerns regarding who would have access to the system.
Members of Dogs West stated that they were already part of the national ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) database of registered dog breeders so there was little benefit to their being part of another system.
In conjunction with dog registrations and dog breeder registrations, respondents indicated that the centralised registration system could also contain information on:
Having a well maintained centralised registration system in place, recording all pet and breeding dogs and their origin and change of ownership trail would cease the unnecessary duplication of data and facilitate control of breeding practices….
Having all the data on each dog centralised in one data base would help both pet owners and dog breeders by enabling purchasers to know exactly where their dog originated and also, track each purchase throughout its life via its microchip.—
Anonymous (dog lover and dog breeder)
It would allow dog history to be better documented and accessible to Rangers.— Ron (local government ranger)
Central registers are very difficult to establish and even more difficult to maintain and will always be incomplete or out of date. The cost would be significant and would be reliant on all dog owners and others notifying the register on each and every
occasion a dog is acquired, passed on, sold or dies. Local government authorities have registers but have not been able to keep their own registers up to date. It is unlikely that a central register would be more successful.— Nick (dog
As part of the proposal to introduce a centralised registration system, it is proposed to introduce dog breeder registration to identify who is breeding dogs, and where dogs have come from.
Written submissions focused on providing reasons why certain exemptions should be granted, particularly in regard to members of dog breeding associations.
Some respondents also called for exemptions to dog owners who owned dogs on ‘breeders terms’ (where an owner agrees to leave their dog entire (not de-sexed) so it may be used by another dog owner for dog breeding purposes).
There was some concern with the terminology of ‘dog breeder registration’. Under the proposal, anyone who owns a dog that is entire will be required to register as a ‘dog breeder’ unless otherwise exempt, even if they do not intend
to use their dog for breeding purposes. The registration is therefore of ‘owners of entire dogs’ as opposed to ‘dog breeders’.
Some also felt that by requiring owners of entire dogs to register as ‘dog breeders’, these owners would be potentially given a mandate to breed dogs, even where they were not particularly knowledgeable about dog breeding.
…anyone who breeds a dog, irrespective of the purpose, must be registered as a breeder on the centralised system and comply with the mandatory standards. — Sentient (veterinary animal welfare organisation)
If the breeders are registered and the litters they are breeding are all recorded it makes it easier to monitor animal welfare standards.’ Kirsty (vet nurse in training and pet sitting/walking business) ‘I think there will still be breeders
who fly under the radar, but we have to start somewhere.— Janet (RSPCA community outreach volunteer)
The Local Government already holds records of the dogs registered in their municipalities and whether they are entire or de-sexed. Owners of these dogs pay registration fees based on them being entire or de-sexed. This will add another layer to the bureaucratic
and administrative nightmare for the Local Government, with additional costs for no benefit, we cannot see any useful purpose in this proposal.— WA Beagle Club (Inc) (dog breed specific association)
What you are deeming as a registered breeder is everyone who owns entire dogs. So, people who have little knowledge on dog breeding are getting the green light to breed indiscriminately. — Dianne (dog breeder and Dogs West member)
The proposal to introduce mandatory standards for dog breeding, housing, husbandry, transport and sale is intended to promote the welfare of dogs in WA. These standards will help to ensure that the care and management of dogs and puppies provides
for their health and welfare, and meets their physical, psychological and social needs.
A number of submissions referenced the Code of Ethics used by the Australian National Kennel Council and their affiliated organisations, such as Dogs West. Many of these respondents indicated that these should be used as a guide in drafting the standards.
Many people also expressed concern about the age at which puppies were taken from their mother, and that there should be a minimum time that puppies must remain with their mother.
Apart from the Animal Welfare Act 2002, which focuses on preventing cruelty, there are currently no standards or guidelines against which the care of dogs can be measured. The dog breeding industry is self-regulated and has failed to keep dogs safe.
Introducing legislation where minimum standards and guidelines are mandatory will allow for better regulation and will improve the lives of hundreds of dogs.— Canine Welfare Alliance of Australia (foster-based rescue group)
Any proposed changes should be solely based on animal welfare and the effects on the breeding animals and their offspring… To believe that poor animal welfare and substandard physical conditions are simply a result of greater animal numbers
is naïve and wrong… It is critical that any changes remain focussed on animal welfare and any regulative measures introduced can be readily enforced. I think we are all very keen to eliminate all businesses and punish any operators
who cause any suffering and harm of breeding dogs, bitches and their pups as a result of their substandard facilities and conditions or their poor management practices but this should happen regardless of whether they involve the breeding of one
bitch or one hundred bitches.— Doug (veterinarian)
Feedback in relation to the proposal to introduce mandatory dog breeding standards:
[There is a] lack of resources to regulate standards and laws. [It also potentially] encourages people to “hide” their practices and send puppy farming underground and on the black market. [It] still encourages backyard breeding. —
Ashleigh (qualified dog trainer)
The department consulted with numerous regional stakeholders during the consultation period. The most prominent concern for regional stakeholders is the potential effects of the measures on livestock working dogs and their owners. Feedback informed
us that the decision to use a livestock working dog for breeding is not made until the dog has matured and demonstrated its potential as a working dog. This assessment is often not made until the dog is two years of age or older, so a decision
as to whether a dog will be used for breeding cannot be made until then. A mandatory de-sexing age would have a significant impact on a farmer’s ability to breed quality working dogs, as they would not have the opportunity to assess a dog’s
performance and ability.
Local governments are currently required to enforce the Dog Act, with many doing so through their ranger services. A key consideration for local governments, particularly in regional areas, will be the resources necessary to enforce these provisions.
Many local governments believe they are unable to properly enforce the current provisions of the Dog Act; and that without additional resources, enforcing the new provisions effectively will prove challenging.
Another concern raised by some submissions, was the ability of the provisions to be enforced in remote communities, where there is currently low rates of dog registration and microchipping.
[regarding the proposed requirement to de-sex livestock working dogs] … when a pup is found that has the necessary attributes, that dog — potentially — becomes a very important breeding animal. If such a good animal has been de-sexed,
that valuable mix of genes is lost. For a breed such as the Kelpie, losing such a mix of genes contributes to a lowering of the quality of our national working dog and thus becomes a loss of Australian heritage.— Jason (pastoralist)
Funding [provided to] Indigenous corporations to service dog health programs are not sufficient to encompass all the dogs in the region as there is no [sic] concept of how many dogs there are in the outlying communities.— Wendy (foster
carer and animal advocate in the North of WA)
The Stop Puppy Farming project is one that has generated interest from a broad range of stakeholders, each with their own perspectives. It is evident that the desire to eliminate the cruel practice of puppy farming is universal and the State Government
is committed to finding the best way to do that.
Consultation helps the Government make informed decisions. This report depicts only some of what we heard. Every submission was read and evaluated and has contributed to our understanding of this important issue and how it can be addressed.
From here the Government will make a decision on how to progress the proposals. Changing the law will take some time. The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will continue to provide updates as the project progresses.
For more information and to stay informed, please visit:www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/stoppuppyfarming or contact
us at email@example.com
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