Page 1375 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 6 April 2011

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2011

Ms Le Couteur, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I am introducing the Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2011. This is a bill that will improve the lives of animals in the ACT. It has a particular focus on companion animals such as dogs and cats. Canberrans, like other Australians, love their pets. We have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. We back it up with an enormous amount of spending on pets, pet care products and pet services, about $6 billion a year.

Sadly, there is a very troubling and largely hidden side to this world of companion animals. Companion animals are often treated as a commodity and so are bred and sold in conditions designed to maximise profits and convenience rather than the welfare needs of the animals. The most obvious example of this is in the shameful puppy farms or puppy mills which have been uncovered around Australia. These commercial breeding operations keep animals in awful conditions. Problems in puppy mills include over-breeding, lack of basic care or veterinary care, poor hygiene, poor breeding conditions and a lack of regard for animals’ behavioural needs.

While an actual puppy mill has not as yet been uncovered inside the ACT borders, our jurisdiction is still connected to this reprehensible activity. There have been a number of prosecutions of puppy mills across the border which were breeding animals for supply to pet stores and consumers in the ACT.

The most recent of these prosecutions was at Goulburn this year. RSPCA inspectors shut down a breeding operation and the owners were charged with 16 offences under New South Wales law, including animal cruelty and breaches of breeding regulations. At the time of rescue, puppies were enclosed in a tin shed, with no windows, on a 37-degree day. A numbers of dogs that were being used for breeding were rescued in an unhealthy condition, with severely matted coats. The CEO of the RSPCA said he was appalled by the case and that the animals had been subjected to horrific conditions in the name of profit. Although located over the border, the animals involved in this case were destined for pet shops in the ACT.

In the ACT, there are multiple avenues for selling companion animals, and these are not sufficiently regulated. Pet stores have no obligation to report from whence they

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