New puppy farm legislation has been branded a ‘‘failure’’ and a ‘‘dog’s breakfast’’ by the National Party, which has accused Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford of targeting law-abiding breeders.
The legislation, which was presented to parliament last week, seeks to cap at 10 the number of fertile female dogs a breeder can own and register with their local council.
Only breeders meeting additional requirements will be able to keep more than 10 fertile female dogs, while commercial dog breeders will be limited to a maximum of 50 fertile female dogs and will be subject to an audit and additional requirements.
On-farm working dogs are exempt from the legislation.
While Ms Pulford labelled the bill an end to ‘‘cruel and barbaric puppy farming’’, Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the laws would target those breeding legally, ethically and responsibly, rather than those operating illegal puppy farms.
New rules for advertising a cat or dog (for sale or to give away) will require a microchip number and a unique source number from a newly established Pet Exchange Register, which will enable Victorians to verify pet advertisers for the first time.
The RSPCA last year told the Inquiry into the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016, which the new legislation amends, there was ‘‘no evidence to show that the number of fertile female animals that you have has a significant bearing on the animals’ welfare’’.
This was echoed by Australian Veterinary Association president Dr Paul Martin’s comments to the same inquiry.
‘‘Poor welfare in regard to breeding can happen whether you have one fertile female or many fertile females,’’ Dr Martin said.
‘‘Animal welfare is not dictated by the number of dogs a person has; it is more dictated by the attitude that the animal owner has or the people in charge of looking after those animals.’’