PERTH, AUSTRALIA – Considered the biggest advance in animal welfare in recent times, this week West Australia Parliament passed laws that turn pet shops into adoption centers and mandates the sterilization of male and female dogs before the age of two.
Initiated six years ago by MP Lisa Baker to end the horrific suffering caused by unethical overbreeding, the legislation will fix a system that has been unjust for dogs and the families who love them. It also serves to end the cruel practice of puppy farming that puts commercial gain above the welfare of dogs. “This new regime is world best practice and will serve as a model to trace and stop the horrendous practices found in puppy mills,” said Baker. “Supported by animal regulatory experts, dog breeders, and veterinarians, we have created a system that will establish a centralized, statewide database where every dog and cat will be registered and can be traced back to the breeder,” she added. No longer will breeders serve to police themselves.
Jennifer Skiff, Director of International Programs for Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C. and Trustee of the Dogs’ Refuge Home in West Australia, co-authored the position paper that led to the legislation. “Until you have lived the nightmare that is “dog rescue” and have witnessed the cruelty, abandonment, inbreeding, and disease caused by unethical breeding, you can’t comprehend why we have worked so diligently and comprehensively to create these laws. They are sweeping and are targeted to end euthanasia by municipalities, dramatically reduce demands on animal shelters, provide traceability to ensure optimum health of dogs by breeders, and will end the otherwise brutal neglect of thousands of dogs in West Australia each year.”
The laws include:
- Mandatory spay/neuter of dogs before the age of two-years-old (unless exempted for veterinary-recommended health or registered breeding reasons)
- Mandatory dog breeder registration to increase transparency and traceability
- A centralized registration system to help authorities access information to identify irresponsible breeders
- The transitioning of pet shops into adoption centers, providing them with targeted assistance to remodel their operations
- Also included, the removal of a law that required retired greyhounds to be muzzled in public and a government-run campaign to educate the public about the new laws
“If we are to prevent the mistreatment of dogs living in the confines of puppy mills, we need statutes to forbid the worst of the practices. West Australia is doing just that, and it is transforming pet stores from puppy mill traffickers into puppy protectors,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy.
The legislation is considered the broadest sweeping reforms ever passed simultaneously to end puppy farming.
Jennifer Skiff with Members of Parliament, Lisa Baker and Cassandra Rowe