Call for dog law review

Matt and Colin Hams from Banksia Park Puppies.
Matt and Colin Hams from Banksia Park Puppies.

WELLINGTON Shire Council has asked for a review of proposed dog breeding legislation.

Council will write to local state Members of Parliament and state parliament's economy and infrastructure committee, supporting a review of legislation to ensure the best outcome for animal welfare without penalising professional breeding businesses.

The state government is preparing to introduce new laws aimed at stamping out industrial-scale puppy breeding. The measures include restricting the number of breeding dogs to 10 by 2020, and banning pet stores from selling puppies which do not come from rescue shelters.

Owner of Longford-based Banksia Park Puppies, Matt Hams, claimed if the legislation went ahead, his business would close, resulting in the loss of 25 local jobs.

"It's a concerning trend that government policy now seems to be based largely on the noise from social media and extremist views," Mr Hams told council.

"Often these things influence policy deeper than they perhaps should.

"There hasn't been enough consultation with industry, we don't believe, into this particular issue.

"This is not about bucking regulation ... we actually support effective regulation that will result in beneficial animal welfare outcomes.

"We just don't believe that this particular piece of legislation will achieve that outcome.

"Years of industry experience tells us that the current policy will only serve to move the problem away from public view.

"The only way to solve this problem will be a sustainably approach that recognises the demand for puppies in Victoria and the country as a whole.

"It's a community-based education, we need a framework for industry development, coupled with realistic commitment from government for adequate resources for councils and enforcing agents."

Mr Hams said the legislation could have a major effect on the Wellington Shire economy.

"I think that the Wellington Shire could expect job losses of closer to 50 to 70 with this implementation.

"That's ignoring the services that go along with it," he said.

It was reported earlier this month that Banksia Park Puppies and a Melbourne pet shop owner had bought a property in Finley, New South Wales, to breed dogs. Bigger breeders are permitted in NSW.

While keen to stop animal cruelty, Cr Scott Rossetti said limiting the number of breeding dogs in Victoria was not the answer.

"The problem's going to be we're going to have a whole lot of smaller breeders, they're going to be very much spread out and difficult to police for local government or whoever the authority is," he said.

"Less policing means we are less likely to catch out cruelty. Less policing means we're less likely to catch overuse of the breeding animals, having animals breed multiple times."

Cr Rossetti said larger breeders, whose livelihood was reliant on breeding, had an interest in focusing on animal welfare.

State Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford earlier this year said there was strong backing for the policy, which followed discussions with animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and Oscar's Law, the latter which is seeking to abolish "factory farming" of companion animals and ban their sale at pet stores.

Ms Pulford claimed the laws would affect less than 90 of Victoria's 10,000 breeders.

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