Late last year pet shops were informed that they would soon be banned from selling animals from illegal pet farms and breeders in Victoria. This year the rules get tougher still and from July 1st Victorian pet shops will be banned from selling animals unless they are from a registered shelter, rescue group or pound.
Many pet shops acquire their puppies or from puppy farms where they are kept as breeding machines, and the conditions can be far from ethical or healthy for the animals.
The RSPCA states that “these facilities operate under conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs”, meaning that the dogs are prone to disease and behavioural issues.
But breeding facilites that have applied for the right permits are not illegal.
Petsway, a pet shop in Box Hill Centro, is one store that is still selling animals in their window ranging from rabbits to cats and dogs. There was little water for the animals, maybe two toys that looked very old despite all the new and nice ones sold in the store, and all the animals seemed quite tired despite being only young.
Multiple negative reviews have been written online about the store, one reading “I was inquiring about buying a puppy one time and they refused to give me details of who they deal with for their puppy supply. When I mentioned puppy farms, they denied this, but would not give me any information from where they got their puppies”.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) describe the journey from animal farms to the pet shop as a gruelling one.
“The puppies are typically taken from their mothers at an early age, packed into crates, and trucked or flown hundreds of miles to brokers and then to pet stores, often without adequate food, water, or ventilation”.
The conditions at pet shops are not ideal and PETA explains animals are “deprived of regular, loving human contact, puppies and kittens bought at pet stores are notoriously difficult to socialise and train”.
The Code of Practice for the Operation of Pet Shops states that animals sold must have these basic requirements:
- accommodation and equipment designed to suit their physical characteristics and behaviour;
- shelter and comfortable conditions of temperature, ventilation and lighting;
- protection from other animals;
- space enough to move, stretch and rest;
- feed and water to provide essential nutrients;
- protection from disease;
- regular observation to enable early detection of problems
Unfortunately the cuteness of the animals is the only positive that buyers can see, as the animals can actually be left at the shop overnight according to the The Code.
“Animals require a secluded darkened sleeping area. Animals in view of the public must be removed from pens in shop windows at night or alternatively, the pens must be covered with opaque screens to exclude both light and the vision of the public”.
Places like Petbarn that work as an adoption centre alongside reputable partners such as the RSPCA, sell rescued animals in their shops but in enclosures that are built to the standards of the Code of Practice for the Operation of Pet Shops.
Petbarn ensure that “dedicated Petbarn staff personally care for all adoption pets. While being cared for in Petbarn Adoption Centres, staff see to all the pets needs including feeding and checking the health and wellbeing throughout the day. Dedicated staff from the adoption partner also ensure the pet is cared for during their stay”.
Unlike at Petbarn, animals sold at commercial pet shops are only there to make a profit for the business. While RSPCA and their affiliated adoption centres like Petbarn, aim to find forever homes for their animals, the RSPCA states that “as well as assessing the suitability of animals for adoption, we also assess the suitability of prospective owners”.
If buying from a pet shop you are advised to find out where the animal came from originally. Dogs Victoria is a good place to search for puppies and dogs as it represents registered owners and breeders as a part of the Australian National Kennel Council.
If anyone is a witness to any cruelty towards animals they are urged to contact the RSPCA.