Animal advocates issue warning on buying from backyard breeders

SICK: The parvo-infected puppy, adopted by Hunter Valley Cat Haven.
SICK: The parvo-infected puppy, adopted by Hunter Valley Cat Haven.

The dangers of buying puppies from backyard breeders is again in the spotlight, following the recent sale of nine dogs all infected with the deadly parvovirus.

Tracey Burkill from Hunter Valley Cat Haven recently made the discovery on Facebook.

Not only had the breeder sold the puppies with parvovirus, they were all only six weeks of age – two weeks short of the legal age of eight weeks.

Society of Companion Animal Rescuers (SoCares) vice-president David Atwell said this incident is a clear indication that the laws surrounding dog breeding need to be changed.

“SoCares has campaigned and lobbied governments to tighten up the laws, in respect to backyard breeders and puppy farmers, as results such as this backyard breeder selling puppies full of parvovirus is one of the consequences of this unregulated industry,” he said.

Mrs. Burkill said the breeder has refused to accept any responsibility for the dogs’ deaths.

“This backyard breeder put the puppies in her car and drove from Gunnedah selling all but one of the puppies around our local area from her car,” she said.

“The last puppy she couldn’t sell and this was handed to one of our carers with 15 minutes’ notice as she didn’t want her.

Three of the puppies spent three weeks in intensive care (including one of HVCH’s), and the rest have died. 

According to Mrs. Burkill, all the buyers reported the puppies had diarrhoea and when questioned, the seller claimed it was from worming the puppies, not parvovirus. 

When notified the seller denied any responsibility and refused to inform all the other buyers.

“Some of the buyers have lodged complaints with the RSPCA and are claiming that they’re not taking their complaints seriously,” Mrs. Burkill said.

One of the puppies was released from intensive care last week and is now being looked after by one of HVCH’s carers.  Since then, HVCH rescued a second puppy from Singleton that was also offered for sale on Facebook for $50, only to find that it too was infected with parvovirus.

The puppy remains in intensive care at Cessnock Veterinary Hospital and Mrs. Burkill said that her property is now in lock down to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious disease.

In light of this situation involving backyard breeders, Mr. Atwell said that a petition of 15,000 signatures concerning tax cheaters in the companion animal breeding sector is more relevant than ever. 

“We’ve gone through the numbers, based upon known figures of puppy farmers and backyard breeders located throughout the Hunter Valley, and have come up with some very disturbing figures,” Mr. Atwell said.

“From these known puppy farms, which may average around 130 breeding bitches a farm, we calculated that they are turning over about quarter of a million dollars a year each.  

“As a consequence, we have estimated that at least $125 million revenue is being made, by puppy farmers in just our state, whilst Australia-wide it could be as high as $750 million. 

“None of this revenue is made known to the Tax Office.”

Based upon work conducted by the SoCares, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon has written to the Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, requesting that the Tax Office ensures these people are investigated for tax evasion.

“It is absolutely disgraceful, not only given the numbers of pups, kittens, dogs and cats involved, but the fact that the Australian Tax Office isn’t investigating such a blatant rip-off involving tax cheating,” Mr. Atwell said.

“The Tax Office needs to investigate these tax cheaters, and make them pay their taxes like everyone else.”

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