My life, designed by me.
The term factory conjures up an image in my mind of the old animated cartoons of the seventies with the background image of solemn grey buildings dotting the horizon, lines of smokestacks belching black industrial by-products into the scene. Possibly drawn by the animator as innocuous background filler, to offer the foreground imagery some context. Factories evoke images of large scale productions, mechanical and efficient processes designed to reduce costs and optimize output. Placing a word like ‘puppy’ in front of ‘factory’ is as disturbing as it sounds and conjures up different images; images that indicate that some people will do anything to make a buck.
The anonymity that online trading affords people enables unregulated breeding and selling of puppies to occur at an alarming rate. Australia’s principal animal welfare organistation, the RSPCA, defines a puppy factory (also known as puppy farms and puppy mills) “an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs” The RSPCA have identified puppy factories as a major animal welfare issue in Australia.
The conditions that the breeding dogs are kept in are often horrific squalor. A typical puppy factory would reveal many dogs confined to a very small, dark area, possibly unable to move with no option to toilet away from where they are confined. Parasites and maggots thrive in the unhygienic environment and breed indiscriminately within the dog’s fur or skin. Inadequate food, hydration and sunlight lead to further physiological discomfort, deficiencies and conditions that may go untreated if they do not directly affect the dog’s ability to breed.
The physiological effects on the dog are traumatic and painful. Frequent breeding can lead to cystic nipples and painful infections.
ost-partum care may be completely absent. Birthing puppies may become harder as their physical condition deteriorates and mortality from birth complications increases the more
s a bitch has borne. The dog will be bred every time she goes into season until her uterus completely prolapses, and at that time she will be destroyed and replaced.
Puppies that come from puppy factories are often psychologically damaged from stress they are subjected to in-utero. The first few weeks of their life are the most important for developing life long behaviours. They are usually transported from the puppy factory into a glass box at a pet store, having never learnt to socialize with other animals or humans. They often have poor temperament and long term behavioural issues that are not easily overcome, increasing the likelihood that they will be given away or dumped if their owner is unable to sustain the time and costs involved in treating the problems. Bitches that are rescued from puppy farms are often unable to be re-homed as they are physically and psychologically damaged and will require high levels of specialist care for the rest of their lives.
Dogs in puppy factories are not viewed as living creatures deserving of compassionate treatment. Their natural reproductive functions are a commodity and exploited until they can no longer physically breed, because they are powerless to prevent this treatment. These animals are not kept around for joy or companionship, they are kept and treated like a piece of machinery in a factory, used purely as a functi
on of a business.
Fortunately, this issue has wide and growing support across Australia. The RSPCA has released a document outlining key legis
lative recommendations that they believe will make it harder for puppy factories to operate and make it easier to identify those that are operating illegally. They also have a campaign, information can be found here.
Victorian Premier Ted Ballieu has acknowledged his support for the issue and his Coalition Government have introduced tighter legislative controls and increased powers for animal welfare officers to Parliament.
Last, but definitely not least is the passionate and powerful campaign by Oscar’s Law. This organisation promotes using education and people power to pressure the Governments to make the legislative changes necessary to abolish puppy factories and educate consumers to be more informed about where pet shops and online traders get their puppies from and to encourage people to demand these barbaric and inhuman breeding practices cease.
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Next week’s Raising Awareness post will be on Food Processing.