The Victorian Government are resuming debate on the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Bill 2016. As part of this, the Government will be introducing a number of amendments to the Bill, which will substantially moderate the impact the Bill would have otherwise had on Dogs Victoria members. These changes have come about as a result of 12 months of hard negotiating with the Minister and her Department by Dogs Victoria, and we are pleased that the Government has taken on board most of our concerns.
That is not to say, however, that the Bill cannot be improved further or that the Government has met all of our expectations on welfare reforms. We still think there is room for improvement if Victoria is to truly set the standards on animal welfare and best practice for breeding. We continue to talk with political representatives about these issues and lobby for further changes as part of the parliamentary process. In short, while we have achieved much we still think there is more that can be done.
Importantly, Dogs Victoria will keep our Applicable Organisation status (the old Bill removed that protection in terms of breeding and numbers of dogs we could have) and Dogs Victoria members will be able to have up to 10 fertile female dogs and breed as “Recreational breeders”. A new commercial category of breeders will be permitted to have between 11 and 50 fertile females, but will require Ministerial and Council approval and meet high standards in terms of welfare.
The Bill will still aim to eliminate illicit puppy farms and unregistered breed through supply - pet shops will still be unable to sell puppies and kittens (unless from rescue or pounds/shelters), and an online, state wide breeder registry, will operated by the Department and will come into effect from July 2019, if the Bill is passed. This 'Pet Exchange Register' will apply to every person who advertise dogs and cats to sell or give away, and (similar to breeder registries introduced or being considered in other states), provide a source number that will need to be included in advertisements (along with microchip numbers etc).
Dogs Victoria will continue to remain actively engaged politically and commit to building our reputation for setting the standards for animal welfare, if we are to successfully represent the interests of our membership and protect the future of pedigree dogs.