Animal cruelty. What do you think when you hear these words? Do you think of inhumane treatment of dogs and cats? Do you think about pain being inflicted upon innocent animals? Or the act of withholding food and water? If you thought any of these then yes, you would be correct. But I bet you didn’t think of puppies in pet shops. Or, more specifically, the dogs that have given life to these adorable cuddly puppies.
Today I wanted to talk about animal cruelty, or more to the point, cruelty against dogs and puppies that are bred into puppy farms or puppy mills. This issue has been overlooked and often ignored by the government for years and as a result has been left up to animal activists to make a change. So what is a puppy farm?
A puppy farm is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis on profits over the welfare of the dogs bred, with inhumane conditions often present. It is defined on the RSPCA website as “an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs”.
These puppy farms are only operating for one purpose. They are not run to bring happiness to families and individuals by supplying happy and healthy pups to them. They are run to make money. Puppies that are born in filthy and disgusting cages are being sold for hundreds of dollars in pet shops or online where no one can see the trauma that they and the other dogs around them have been through.
On the 19th of January, 2015, a puppy farm in northern NSW was investigated by the RSPCA after animal activists claimed they’d found evidence of dogs living in appalling conditions.
Bodies of deceased dogs were found around the property, left to rot away after being viciously and heartlessly killed. Debra Tranter, an animal activist who also founded the animal rights group Oscars Law, said “One dog had been placed inside a dog food bag and left there to rot.” The dogs from this puppy farm were advertised online on popular trading websites with the titles “Beautiful labradoodle puppies” and “All our puppies are raised on our family farm with children and other pets”.
This evidence prompted the local Nationals MP Adam Marshall to demand an investigation. The media reports that Marshall is unhappy that the responsibility for uncovering these kinds of operations are left to animal rights groups like Oscars Law, rather than the designated authorities. He said “It is a task that should be addressed by the authorities, the RSPCA, the Police and the Animal Welfare League.”
A spokeswoman for the animal welfare league also said that, “sadly there are no ways of being able to properly check the origins of the puppies that are bought online.” And this is the problem. We can’t know for sure whether the puppies we are buying are bred in a humane way or whether they’ve been mistreated.
That puppy that your neighbour brought home a month ago or the dog that your grandparents bought from Buy Swap and Sell could have been born into a cramped, dirty cage before going to a pet store or being advertised online. Debra Tranter was among the animal activists involved in this particular case.
She has a great deal of experience with this sort of situation and puts this knowledge and information to good use. In 2011 she founded the ‘Oscars Law’ organisation after adopting a dog who was mistreated and abandoned. This dogs name was Oscar.
Oscar was a small dog kept for breeding on a property in remote Victoria. He was found by Debra cowering in the back of a small dark cage, fur matted, fleas and mites in his infected ears and his teeth were so infected he couldn’t eat properly. Debra rescued him from this. After being treated by a vet, shaved and de-sexed, he weighed only 1.6 kg.
Then, in the middle of the night Debra’s house was raided by police, Oscar was seized and returned to the puppy farm where he was taken from. He was returned to the hell he thought he’d escaped. Debra was also arrested. Months later, Debra returned to the puppy farm where they were selling adult dogs.
The puppy farmer considered him no good because his breeding days were over and sold him at a discounted price of $400. Oscar was finally able to go to a safe and loving home after being taken away from it due to the current system. Debra said on the 7th of February that “the current system has failed animals”.
Stories like this are far too common, however majority of them end with the opposite result and dogs are left unhappy and unsafe in the farms where they are used for breeding and are then tossed in the corner. Now I want you to picture a simple metal cage, roughly 1-1.5 metres squared.
Now imagine some torn up newspaper on the floor of the cage, maybe a scrap piece of fleece. Now imagine all of this is coated in a thick layer of muck. Poo, wee, any other liquid that finds itself on the floor and walls of the cage. Now imagine touching the cage. Reach out and run your finger nail along the muck. Imagine how it would feel to have that under your nails.
Imagine how it would feel to have it matted in your hair, on your face. Now imagine you’re forced to live in this cage with little food and water. You’re forced to sleep in this cage. You’re forced to poo and wee on top of your only bed. You’re forced to cry out for help in this cage to a person who will never listen. This is an image that hopefully you will remember. This is the image I want to leave with you today.
This image is what thousands of dogs have burned into their memory for their entire lives. They live this image as their reality. So what can be done? We can adopt dogs from the RSPCA instead of buying them online or from a pet shop. We can give that older dog a chance to win our hearts instead of looking for a puppy.
We can be humane in the way we treat our own dogs and set an example for those around us. We can spread the word of puppy farming. We can stand with ‘Oscar’s Law’ and help push the government to see the unfairness of what is happening to these adorable dogs who are inhumanely bred to make money, who aren’t given a fair chance at life. So please, go and like the Oscar’s Law facebook page, do some research and share what you find with others. Thank you.