Legislation To Ban Pets in Pet
Shops and Puppy Farming
Clover Moore – Independent MP
“Working for Sydney” says:
I am in favour of animal rights as
well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.
I follow that quotation by Abraham
Lincoln with the following facts. Australia has the highest rate of pet
ownership in the world. Yet the most recent statistics of the Department of
Local Government show that more than 60,000 dogs and cats are killed each year
in New South Wales alone. Those numbers do not include animals dumped in
national parks where domestic animals die of starvation, are killed by other
animals or harm the natural ecosystem. If we want to consider ourselves as a
humane society we must take action to prevent the cruel dumping and killing of
so many companion animals. That is the basis of the bill I introduce to the
House today. I repeat: Australia has the highest rate of pet ownership in the
world. Four out of five Australians have owned a pet and almost two-thirds of
Australian households currently own pets.
In New South Wales there are about two million companion animals. Pets play an
incredibly important role in our society. They give pleasure and teach
responsibility. For many people who live on their own pets provide love and
security. A recent RSPCA survey demonstrated the degree of emotional attachment
to pets by a high percentage of pet owners saying they would choose their pets'
company over that of friends or flatmates. Yet there is a disturbing aspect to
In 2005-06 the New South Wales RSPCA received more than 38,000 dogs and cats at
its shelters, 18,000 of which had to be killed. As I said, the most recent
statistics of the Department of Local Government show that 60,000 dogs and cats
are killed each year in New South Wales%u2014a number that equates with the
population of a medium-size town. This number does not include other animals
such as rabbits, mice and guinea pigs that are put down, nor does it include
animals that are dumped in national parks where domestic animals die of
starvation or cause harm to our natural ecosystem. If we want to be considered
as a humane society we must take action.
A campaign to prevent the sale of animals in pet shops has been initiated by the
Say No to Animals in Pet Shops organisation. This body claims
there is a link between pet shops and the enormous number of animals killed
every year at pounds and shelters. Its claim is supported by other animal
welfare and advocate groups and has wide community support. That is because pet
shops promote impulse buying and irresponsible breeding for profit. Pet shops
create a demand for animals that can only be met by unscrupulous breeders and
puppy farms that continue to produce more animals, despite the already
oversupply. The Say No to Animals in Pet Shops organisation has collected 5,000
signatures on petitions and my office has received a great deal of phone calls
and correspondence on this issue.
The Animals (Regulation of
will protect the lives and wellbeing of dogs, cats and other mammals by
prohibiting their sale in pet shops, fairs and markets. It will prevent the
impulse purchasing of mammals by restricting sales to registered breeders,
pounds, animal shelters and veterinarians where animals will be appropriately
matched with buyers, who will be informed about special needs and requirements.
Mammals will only be able to be kept at shops or markets and offered for sale if
they are kept on behalf of animal shelters and returned to the shelter at night.
Mammals cannot be sold at shops or markets. Instead, prospective buyers will be
required to attend an animal shelter to make a purchase. This will allow the
RSPCA to participate in the Road to Home Program, which increased the recovery
and re-homing of abandoned pets in Queensland by 40 per cent.
The bill will make it difficult for the industry to shift to other outlets by
preventing the advertising of sale of mammals through printed and electronic
material. It will ensure that the pet shop cannot advertise to act as an
intermediary for the sale of the mammal unless the animal is at an animal
shelter or council pound. The bill does not restrict shops from selling other
animals, such as birds or fish, or from selling pet foods and accessories. There
are approximately 300 pet shops in New South Wales. Only recently in Australia
have pet shops become major suppliers of companion animals to the public.
Previously animals were generally acquired either from breeders or, more
commonly, from surplus litters in informal networks.
Pet shops are now part of a large commercial industry that supplies a range of
animals. Pet shops can sell a puppy for $550 or $600 and make 100 per cent
profit, according to industry representatives. Designer puppies or hybrid breeds
can sell for as much as $1,000. Like any commercial enterprise, pet shops exist
to make profits. Site location and shrewd marketing are as essential to a pet
shop as they are to any other retail business. I cite a pet shop guide produced
by the Entrepreneur Business Centre:
The scenario is simple: Someone
will walk by, fall in love with an animal and buy it. These sorts of impulse
sales can add dramatically to your profits.
First-time browsers in a pet shop will not necessarily jump at the thought of
spending $450 to $500 to bring a dog home However, if your shop is accessible
and your sales and service ability is convincing, it will not be long before you
convert walk-in traffic into buying customers.
In other words, to maximise their
profits, pet shops must encourage potential purchasers through clever marketing
of their most appealing products. Puppies and kittens in prominent window
displays are especially conducive to impulse buying.
Impulse buying is acceptable for handbags or shoes, but pet shops sell live
sentient beings, such as puppies and kittens, which need ongoing care and
attention. Unlike most animal shelters, pet shops do not ensure there is a
suitable match between animal and purchaser. An inappropriate choice of an
animal can result in neglect of the animal. A small cute puppy in a pet shop may
develop unanticipated and undesirable behavioural problems as an adult and that
can lead to its being dumped. A person who buys a puppy or a kitten on impulse
may not be aware of the considerable responsibilities of owning an adult dog or
cat. The cost of desexing, annual immunisation, veterinary checks and food can
be considerable unanticipated financial burdens for the purchaser, who may also
be unaware of the time and effort involved in walking and grooming a dog.
The bill bans the sale of mammals to persons under the age of 16 in line with
the recent changes to the United Kingdom Animal Welfare Act. Persons under the
age of 16 are unable to understand the responsibilities of owning a pet and
purchases could lead to parents abandoning the animal if they are not in a
position to take on the new responsibilities. The Pet Industry Association of
Australia has a national code of practice based on the Department of
Agriculture's code of practice for animals in pet shops. However, it is
voluntary. It covers animal housing, care and management, including written
information for the purchaser. The seven-day health warranty is encouraged, but
there is no provision for returning the animal because of behavioural problems.
Even this inadequate warranty is ignored by at least one major chain of pet
Animal behaviourists claim that a pet shop is an inherently stressful
environment for an animal. This is because the animal is often too young to be
taken away from its mother and is subject to constant handling and lack of quiet
times. Animal behaviourists say that this can lead to depressed immune systems
and illness. The RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League of New South Wales and the
police all have power under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 to
oversee the health and welfare of animals in pet shops, yet the basic standards
set by the code of practice are not adhered to by many pet shops. My office
receives countless phone calls, letters and emails from people who are
distressed about the treatment of animals in pet shops.
The pet industry's national code of practice sets a minimum age of puppies and
kittens for sale at eight weeks with some exceptions. It recommends that pet
shops advise the purchaser about the advisability of desexing both male and
female dogs and cats. Advice from veterinarians is that both dogs and cats can
be desexed at eight weeks, although it is not always desirable. Prepaid vouchers
to be used when the animal is more mature are used by some animal rescue groups,
but rarely by pet shops. The onus is on the purchaser and the community to bear
either the financial cost of desexing or the implication of litters. I point out
to the House that an un-desexed female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000
cats in seven years.
The sale of mice in pet shops is also a serious problem when some pet shops do
not separate male and female mice, and some mice may be pregnant when they are
purchased. The quick succession of multiple litters can be dealt with by the
purchaser either by killing them or dumping them in the bush or at an animal
welfare organisation, or by taking them to animal advocacy groups that either
kill them or, very rarely, re-home them. Litters of mice are detrimental to the
environment when dumped in either urban or bush environments, and killing them
is inherently cruel and unnecessary.
One of the most disturbing issues in relation to pet shops is the lack of
regulation with regard to the source of the animals for sale. Animals may come
from unregistered backyard breeders, puppy farms or other pet owners. Purchasers
have no guarantee of the pet's genetic history, past treatment or possible
behaviour problems. Unregistered backyard breeders and puppy farms breed dogs
and cats in large numbers to be delivered to the lucrative pet shop market. They
sell animals without identification or microchip and without screening the new
owner. Animal advocates allege there are numerous puppy farms in New South Wales
where animals are kept in shocking conditions, bred continuously and housed in
inhumane conditions, and when they are no longer able to breed, they are killed.
Their offspring have little or no contact with either humans or other animals of
the same breed.
Say No to Animals in Pet Shops has provided evidence of these puppy farms on its
website. As well as the cruelty involved in this form of breeding, animal
behaviourists maintain that it can lead to future health and behavioural
problems for the animal: it may be unable to socialise properly with a family or
it may have problems with other dogs. The result is that the animal may be
dumped or surrendered to a pound or shelter where it will be killed. Only a very
small percentage of these animals will be re-homed. The Dutch Society for the
Protection of Animals published information in one of its magazines and ran a
television commercial about puppy farms. They received approximately 1,200 phone
calls from people who suspected that there might be a puppy farm in their
neighbourhood. Following up every call found that 70 per cent were puppy farms
and 18 per cent were unregistered backyard breeders.
The situation in New South Wales is probably similar. There is no reason to
suggest otherwise. Animal advocates claim that the organisations given power
under the New South Wales Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act do not have the
resources to monitor such an extensive underground industry. Even if the numbers
were small, a civil society would act to prevent this cruelty and reduce the
number of unwanted animals that are killed or die of starvation or disease. It
is a sobering fact that the average lifespan of a dog in Australia is two years.
Pet shops create a demand for animals. The more companion animals sold through
pet shops, the greater is the demand from puppy farms and backyard breeders.
Animals must not be bred solely for profit. The tragic implication of the
oversupply of dogs and cats in New South Wales must be stopped.
This bill will reduce the oversupply of mammals. It will immediately remove the
lucrative market. It will ensure that a person wishing to acquire a cat, a dog
or a mammal will have to go to a registered breeder, and/or a pound or a
shelter. Debate last year in the United Kingdom Parliament's House of Commons on
the Animal Welfare Bill involved an amendment to ban the sale of dogs in pet
shops. The Government in reply acknowledged the problems associated with pet
shops selling pets and said that the Parliament would consider a ban on the sale
of all animals in pet shops when developing regulations. Regulations could also
introduce mandatory codes of practice for pet shops and other practices to
discourage impulse buying.
Austria has introduced legislation. Belgium and Croatia recently introduced
legislation and many pet shops in America re-home animals only from shelters. It
can be done here. Many pet shops run profitable businesses selling pet food and
accessories. I do not claim that this bill will stop backyard breeders or
completely transform the ways that society treats companion animals. However, if
people have to consider the real consequences of owning and caring for a pet,
the shocking oversupply of dogs and cats may be reduced. As a civil, just and
humane society, we must take action to stop the cruel dumping and killing of
I note that the following organisations support this bill: the RSPCA, Animal
Liberation, Young Lawyers Animal Rights Committee, Saying No to Animals in Pet
Shops, World League for the Protection of Animals, Dogs New South Wales, the
American Staffordshire Club of New South Wales, Doggie Rescue, the Cat
Protection Society and the Humane Society International. I commend this bill to
Selling Animals From Pet
Shops is Animal Abuse
May 13, 2008 from
Paws for Action
Many people have not visited
pounds - but you don’t need to to see why we need the Animals (Regulation of
Sales) Bill. All you have to do is visit the pet shop in your local shopping
How many times have you walked
past a pet shop and seen a sick or distressed animal for sale, or an animal who
looks too young to be away from its mother, or an animal without access to food
and water? What you have witnessed is cruelty.
Animal abuse and pet shops
are two sides to the same coin. This is because pet shops are businesses and
making money will always take precedence over the well being of the animals in
their care. For example:
- Pet shops actively encourage impulsive
behaviour in customers. The following excerpt has been taken from the
Entrepreneur Business Centre: ‘Pet Shop Business Start Up Guide’.
“The scenario is simple:
Someone will walk by, fall in love with an animal and buy it. These sorts of
impulse sales can add dramatically to your profits.
First-time browsers in a pet
shop will not necessarily jump at the thought of spending $50 to $500 to bring a
dog home… However, if your shop is accessible and your sales and service ability
is convincing, it will not be long before you convert walk-in traffic into
- To avoid losing potential customers by
‘burdening’ them with the expected costs and responsibilities of animal
ownership, pet shops rarely provide people with care information. In this
way pet shops set people up to fail in living up to their responsibilities.
- Animals are sold to anyone with money.
ID is rarely sighted, people are not interviewed and there are innumerable
accounts of animals being sold to minors.
- Animals are housed 24hrs a day in tiny
display cages. During the day they are surrounded by bright lights, noise
and excited shoppers; at night they are alone and unsupervised. This
seriously compromises their welfare.
- Pet shops sell animals to people (often
impulsively and without care information) un-desexed. This combined with a
lack of education leads to more unwanted animals being born with no where to
- If an animal becomes sick while in the
care of the pet shop it is common practice to not seek vet treatment.
Animals are either left to die, taken to a pound or sold at a discounted
rate. All this to avoid the business incurring additional costs. An ex-pet
shop employee recalls:
I worked in a pet shop as I
thought it would be a nice job as I have always loved animals. I became totally
disillusioned with the pet industry as I realised it was purely a profit driven
industry. After the shop closed one Saturday afternoon there were (4 or 5)
kittens that had got cat flu. They looked a little sickly and from memory they
had sticky eyes.
Rather than taking them to
the vet the cheaper and easier method of disposal was decided upon by the store
manager. My manager put the kittens in a cardboard box with a rag with
chloroform on it and closed the lid tightly. I stood there quite horrified not
really knowing at the time what was going on as it all happened rather quickly.
All I could hear was a whole lot of jumping and scratching around in the
box-sounds of the kittens desperately trying to get out of there. After a minute
or so it was quiet. To check they had all died I distinctly remember her picking
up the box and shaking it to check there was no more movement.
This manager had no regard
for the animals in the pet shop… they were treated merely as goods to sell in
order make more profits for this major chain pet shop.
- The animals sold in NSW pet shops are
sourced cheaply from ‘puppy farms’ or backyard breeders, where the parents
are housed and bred in appalling conditions at minimal cost.
- These animals will never be walked,
cuddled or played with, and they will never know the comforts of a home. As
soon as they stop making money (if they become sick or stop producing
litters) they are discarded as they are useless to the breeder.
- The backyard or commercial breeder has
no understanding of or concern for breed standards, genetics, socialising,
or animal health. The animals sold are usually suffering as a result.
Comment: The problem of animals sold
in pet stores is a problem world-wide and one that we can all help to stop.
Congratulations to Clover Moore in her efforts to STOP THE IMPULSE BUY AND SAVE
LIVES! Read more
Ending the sale of animals in pet
Animals (Regulation of Sale)
Private Member's Bill - Negatived, Not Agreed in
New Victorian animal law to ban children from buying pets
By Kelly Ryan From:
Herald Sun (Australia)
October 27, 2010
Children will be banned from buying puppies and kittens -
even goldfish - at pet stores
under new laws to protect animals.
Under sweeping Victorian Government reforms, a re-elected
Brumby Government would outlaw anyone under the age of 18 from buying animals.
Cats and dogs sold from pet stores will have to be desexed.
And lost or abandoned animals at shelters will get up to six weeks to find a new
home. At the moment dogs and cats on death row have 28 days to be adopted.
Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said rogue puppy farms would
be stamped out, with the RSPCA to join councils in getting greater powers to
shut them down and seize their animals.
Mr Helper has promised another $4 million over four years to
the RSPCA to investigate and prosecute cruelty cases. "Victorians have shown
they will not tolerate animal cruelty and that is why a re-elected Brumby Labor
Government will take these tough measures to protect animals and pets," Mr
Children will be banned from buying animals at pet stores
unless they have parental consent. Currently, pet stores are governed by a
non-enforceable code of conduct to restrict the sale of certain animals to
specific ages. Shop owners found to have sold an animal to a minor will face
There are about one million dogs and 600,000 cats in
Victoria, and it is understood about 15 per cent of animals bought each year
come from pet shops. A store-bought pet costs anywhere from $700 to $1300. But new
rules demanding they be desexed or making the new owner buy a desexing voucher
is expected to add another $200 to the cost. A dog from the Lost Dogs' Home
costs $275 and an adult cat $95. All animals sold from shelters are desexed,
microchipped and vaccinated.
Under the reforms, pet breeders face fines up from $1200 to
$2400 per breach if they do not register as a domestic animal business or don't
comply with a code of practice. The Government will also expand the responsible pet ownership
program to cover 300 more kindergartens. And a Smart Pet Buyers program will
help Victorians ensure their pet is from a shelter or responsible and registered
Read more on our
Pet Shops/Rabbits/Legislation page