Proposals to limit the number of animals allowed to be kept by breeders.
The Master Dog Breeders and Associates is very much against a proposal to limit the number of animals kept by breeders.
Our main objections to this approach are:
Health and Welfare considerations.
1. Limiting numbers will not stop some people who breed dogs treating them badly.
The MDBA is appalled that there are some dog breeders who keep their dogs in substandard conditions but in all activities or industries there are some who break the rules and cause suffering. In dog breeding these are a vast minority. No amount of number restriction will prevent a person who is capable of such things from operating. A person is just as capable of mistreating 10 dogs as they are any number. Every dog should be treated well regardless of how many the breeder keeps.
2. Limiting numbers does not take into account the variables in breeder circumstances which affect the welfare of their dogs.
There is considerable variance in a breeder’s capability to manage and own breeding dogs efficiently and effectively. The breeder who devotes their entire focus on their breeding dogs, who does not work in another occupation, who is fit and healthy, has family members who can help out or who employs kennel hands cannot be compared to someone who goes out to work in another employment field and who can only devote a short period each day to the care of their dogs, or someone who has no assistance, or someone who is not in good health.
3. Number limits do not take into account the vast differences in breed requirements and management issues.
Some breeds require little or no grooming whilst others require much more time, care, energy and resources. Large dogs require much more resources and time to manage than small toy breeds especially in the areas of exercise and cleaning management.
4. Number limits do not take into account the benefits for the dogs, the breed and the community of having more, rather than less dogs, to choose from in a breeding program.
Reputable breeders typically test their dogs in either all or some of the following: the show ring, obedience trials, agility, scenting, and breed appropriate tests and trials. They perform health tests and screens to ensure their bloodline and resultant puppies are healthy. This results in breeders often having intact males and females that are not being bred and may never be bred. Many fertile dogs they have in their care at any given time may be removed from the breeding program if they fail health or temperament criteria. Many diseases cannot be tested for until the animal is older, for example joint X rays and heart screening. Some recommendations in some breeds are that an animal not be bred until it is over 5 years of age to be able to eliminate the possibility of breeding a dog which will develop such diseases - for example Mitral Heart Disease. Limiting the numbers a breeder can keep effectively limits their choices for selecting only the healthiest and best dogs to include in their breeding programs and impacts on health and quality of puppies bred and negatively impact the gene pool of a breed.
In order to breed for improvement, a breeder must have more than a couple females to breed and should be breeding with the intention of keeping pups for themselves, for their breeding program. As a result a breeder will have more females, in order to be breeding scientifically and or, towards goals. Some breeders are also working on different lines, for assistance dogs, police, armed forces, search and rescue, scenting etc. or colours that do not carry health issues. This means that some breeders need to own more dogs than someone working on just one line, a different goal or colour. Responsible breeders are breeding to better the breed and their lines, by keeping puppies out of their breeding to select the best they can to constantly improve on the next generation.
5. Limitations in numbers will not reduce the numbers of animals entering and dying in shelters.
Proponents claim number restrictions are necessary to stem the tide of animals entering and dying in shelters. However, in our experience, puppies produced by responsible breeders rarely enter shelters and when they do, they are generally reclaimed by the owners or by the breeders themselves. We assert that there is not an oversupply of puppies. If the demand for puppies was not there then the sale price of puppies would drop, reputable breeders would not have waiting lists for puppy sales two years in advance and breeders who breed in volume solely for profit would stop breeding them.
There’s no question that too many animals die in shelters and pounds each year. However, there is no connection between the breeding of a healthy litter of well temperamented, healthy puppies and the death of a stray dog in a shelter.
Responsible dog breeders sell their puppies to new homes, take back puppies that buyers cannot keep, are available to answer questions and help new owners train their puppies, and protect the health and well-being of their breeds. They are part of the solution to community dog troubles and should not be treated as if they are the problem.
If puppy buyers have fewer options for finding well-bred healthy puppies of a breed of their choice in NSW they will purchase puppies from: interstate; internationally; off the internet and from breeders who keep their animals in sub-standard conditions. Puppy buyers who purchase from less reputable sources will have less education and training from breeders and this will contribute to increasing the number of dogs in shelters when puppy buyers reach the limit of their experiences with dogs
6. Limiting numbers will increase the numbers of breeding dogs having to be removed from a person’s care.
A limit law on breeders would penalize a responsible breeder with more than 10 dogs who is not a nuisance or threat to neighbours, who keeps their dogs in perfect health and conditions, who places puppies responsibly and is a support system for their puppy buyers, facing the loss of one or more of their companions.
Most people who breed dogs see their animals as part of their family and the emotional cost to the breeder and the risk of homelessness for the dogs should not be underestimated.
7. Limiting numbers will not prevent animal hoarding
Hoarding cases involve the psychological well-being of the animal owner as well as the animals themselves, but more and more they are being used as an excuse to impose a limit on the number of dogs a breeder can keep. Due the complexity of this problem we simply say that this should not be linked in an attempt to further regulate dog breeders.
8. Smaller scale breeding operations are no guarantee of improved welfare conditions
In testimony to the Select Committee in SA the AWL stated that many of the animals that end up in their shelter come from unscrupulous breeders - people who “set up a couple of dogs or cats in their backyard and breed for money, without any proper consideration for animal welfare.”
Across the board our rescue members agree with these comments.
9. Limiting the numbers a breeder can care for will not prevent breeders from keeping more than they are legally able to.
A number limit is difficult, almost impossible to enforce without increased presence of animal control or policing agencies and will lead to a decrease in micro chipping and council registration, vetting etc. to prevent cross-referencing. Many breeders will keep and say some of the animals are ordinarily in guardian homes and bring the dog in to have her puppies, dogs are able to visit, be looked after for a friend for short periods, come and go for outings, exercise, stud services etc. At any given time numbers can fluctuate and enforcing over limit numbers is a very difficult task. Some dogs will be hidden; some litter sizes will magically increase as the breeder combines two litters to make it seem there is only one bitch etc. . Any dogs over the number which would now see a vet over the number allowed may not see a vet etc. for fear of being exposed to having over the maximum number. Breeders who have welcomed puppy buyers to their property will be more reluctant to do so if they fear being caught for more than the 10 dogs they are able to have.
1. Inequitable production and trading circumstances.
Commercially there is a major difference regarding potential profits between someone [for example] who owns 10 Great Danes and 10 Chihuahuas. The Great Dane Breeder can legally potentially produce up to 120 puppies per year, with current average price per puppy, this enables this breeder to legally turnover approx. $300,000 per year in puppy sales whilst the Chihuahua breeder can legally potentially produce 30 puppies per year, with current average price per puppy this breeder can only legally turn over approx. $40,000 per year. There are three serious problems with this
• Limiting numbers will give a commercial advantage to some breeders based solely on breed type or litter sizes a breed can produce.
• The toy breed breeder who can produce fewer puppies has less choice of puppies to include in their breeding program. Number limits do not take into account these types of breed specific variables.
• Limiting numbers will see breeding decisions made on breeding dogs for litter sizes and market value rather than dogs most suited to families in order to be able make a viable profit on less breeding dogs.
2. A limit law would change current development application approvals with breeders entitled to seek compensation.
Those breeders who have development application approvals to breed dogs [more than ten] on their property; who have increased the re-sale value of their property by making improvements to keep more than ten dogs in high welfare conditions; who legitimately earn a living from the sale of their puppies as a small business would be restricted and prevented from using their properties as they have done will be disadvantaged. This will cause a loss of earnings and the devaluation of the breeder’s property.
There will be claims against the state for compensation for the breeders who have spent considerable sums of money on preparing their properties for a legal activity and who now are restricted in their ability to trade. It is worthwhile noting that these claims for compensation would include any potential decrease of property value due to having complying infrastructure that can no longer be used for the purpose it was built and, post number limits, is less valuable and for loss of future earnings from their business.
3. Limiting numbers will impact negatively on regional and state revenue.
If breeders in Victoria are restricted in the number of dogs they can have this will reduce the supply and not the demand for puppies which will have negative consequences on the State.
People will purchase puppies bred outside of Victoria decreasing the sales of Victorian bred puppies which will have consequences for the Victorian economy, for instance: a reduction in the sales of dog food for breeding dogs (as there will be less breeding dogs in the State); a reduction in the services required from veterinarians (as there will be less breeding dogs in the State); a reduction in the purchase of accessories, i.e. whelping supplies and puppy supplies (as there will be less breeding dogs in the State).
This negative impact on the Victorian economy will especially hit rural areas. If this proposed Legislation is implemented by the Victorian Government they will effectively be giving breeders from other states and other countries an advantage over Victorian breeders’ trade.
Federal Legislation Considerations
1. Number restrictions impinge on the rights of people to pursue their legal interests and to have free enjoyment of their property and this may breach Australian laws where people have a right to trade in lawful activities.
2. As Australian consumers under federal law consumers [puppy buyers] have a right to be able to have unrestricted access to the product of their choice and by limiting numbers Victorian breeders can keep, this increases the demand for puppies bred ,increasing prices without the buyer having the same options.
3. Leaving puppy buyers with fewer options for finding locally well-bred healthy pet puppies of their choice which have been bred in Victoria will see them purchase puppies from interstate, internationally, off the net and from those who keep their animals in sub-standard conditions Most who want a puppy of a particular age and breed or cross breed will not purchase rescue dogs regardless of how much easier or cheaper it is to access them. This gives massive advantage to Victorian breeder’s competitors and restrict the ability for to grow their businesses and have equal trade opportunities as breeders who live in other places.
Enforcement of Laws
1. Difficulties of enforcement.
A number limit will be difficult, almost impossible, to enforce without increasing presence of animal control or policing agencies to enforce those laws. It will encourage more people to break the law potentially by not micro chipping their dogs and not registering them with their local council. They may do this to prevent the cross-referencing of their dogs across agencies.
At any given time the numbers of dogs on a breeding property can legitimately fluctuate for the following reasons: some breeders may have their dogs in guardian home off the property but will bring the dog onto the property to have her puppies so they can ensure the health of the puppies and their mother; dogs come to a breeding property with visitors; some breeders look after puppies they have sold when the puppy owners go on holidays; some look after their friends dogs when illness occurs; other dogs come and go for outings, exercise, stud services etc. which makes enforcing over limit numbers a very difficult task.
Some dogs will be hidden; some litter sizes will magically increase as the breeder combines two litters to make it seem there is only one bitch. Any dogs over the number allowed may not see a vet etc. for fear of being exposed to having over the max number.
We do not believe that simply limiting the numbers of breeding dogs will reach the stated goals.