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Dodgy breeders — know the signs

Published on 09 May 2022
Categories:
  • Animals
  • Community
Cat resting head on dog

Have you recently welcomed a furry friend into your family? You’re not alone!

In Maroondah, there are more than 20,000 pets registered with Council, and these numbers have risen significantly over the past 18 months.

But do you know if your pet has been ethically bred? With demand for pets increasing during the pandemic, there has also been an increase in scams and illegal behaviour.

The Victorian Government has recently released a Choosing a Healthy Pet checklist to help combat scammers and dodgy breeders, which encourages prospective pet owners to make informed decisions when looking for a furry friend.

The checklist supports pet owners with important advice on steps they can take when selecting a new pet, as well as useful information about breeds, pet health and behaviour.

Minister for Agriculture, Mary-Anne Thomas, said that animal welfare is everybody’s responsibility.

“Getting a pet is exciting for the whole family but it’s important to take the right steps and look beyond the cute face — everyone has a part to play in stamping out dodgy breeders.

“We encourage people to ask questions which prevent dishonest pet sellers from abusing the trust of prospective pet owners,” said Minister Thomas.

It’s important to ask the right questions to identify dodgy breeders and avoid pet scams:

  • Do not buy pets from a car park or other public place – it is illegal to sell companion animals in public places without a permit. This is a common sign that a sale may not be legitimate.
  • Always meet the pet, and its parents if you can, and ask to see their current living conditions.
  • Check that the advertisement includes a source number and that the number is valid on the Pet Exchange Register website.
  • Make sure to get proof of vet checks, microchipping and vaccinations – it is a requirement to microchip all cats and dogs before they are sold or given away in Victoria.
  • Immediately update your pet’s microchip details after purchase and register them with Council.

Find out more about responsible pet ownership

Helping animals in our neighbourhood — Animal Aid

Animal Aid is a place of refuge for the lost, unwanted and abandoned animals in our community.

Animal Aid help manage all lost and found services for the Council and are strong supporters of stamping out illegal and unethical breeding.

Animal Aid spokesperson, Elle Ammann, said that health issues are the most common sign of dodgy breeding.

“Dodgy breeding can result in a range of health issues, including serious problems such as hip dysplasia, elbow and patella issues, as well as skin and serious ear infections,” Elle said.

Elle recommends that before you go ahead with the purchase of a new pet, be aware of some dodgy breeding ‘red flags’.

“If your new pet isn’t microchipped, this is a definite red flag that illegal breeding has occurred.

“If the breeder asks you to meet in a park, carpark or public place and doesn’t want to show you the living situations of your new pet, then this is also a sign that you may be purchasing from a dodgy breeder,” Elle said.

When it comes to purchasing a new pet, Elle said that the most important thing you can do is to ask questions about the welfare of your pet.

“Be sure to ask questions about your pet’s current home situation. Where does it sleep? What does it eat? How much socialising has it had?

“Find references of people who have purchased a pet through the breeder. Do their pets have any health issues?

“If you are purchasing a pure-bred pet, a good breeder should also be able to provide you with a solid family lineage of good health.

“Also, make sure the breeders are also asking you questions about your lifestyle — Will you walk it every day? Do you have space for your new pet to run around? Do you have another pet? Are you prepared for your life to change once your new pet has arrived?

“A good breeder will be just as interested in the welfare of your new pet as you are,” Elle said.

Whether you are looking to buy or adopt your new pet, Elle recommends looking beyond the cute face and breed of your pet, and instead think about the ethical responsibility you have to both your new pet and the breeding industry.

“Whether a breeder is legally registered or not, it is important to remember that ethical breeding is more than just a legal purchase, it takes into account demand in the community for a particular pet/breed, temperament, ongoing health issues and the likelihood of that animal having a happy and full life.

“If you are keen on having a particular breed of animal, make sure that there isn’t an abundance of this breed waiting to be adopted. Can you adopt your perfect pet instead?

“If you are forced to surrender your pet during the course of its life, will it be easily rehomed, or will it have ongoing health or socialisation issues?

“Where you decide to purchase your new pet from has real consequences, and it’s worth considering these before you take your new pet home,” Elle said.

Do you suspect dodgy breeding?

Authorised officers from the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate are responsible for enforcing Victoria’s strict breeding laws.

RSPCA Victoria Chief Inspector, Michael Stagg, has seen firsthand what happens to surrendered animals as a result of dodgy breeding.

“From our work at RSPCA Inspectorate, we know animals bred by illegal breeders often suffer health concerns related to poor breeding practices or a lack of appropriate veterinary care.

“The Choosing a Healthy Pet checklist and will help future pet owners do their own research and avoid common pitfalls,” said Chief Inspector Stagg.

Residents who suspect illegal breeding activity are encouraged to make a report to the RSPCA

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