Council and RSPCA probe Gympie puppy farm claims

GYMPIE Regional Council and the RSPCA confirmed yesterday they were investigating complaints of a puppy farm within 15 minutes of Gympie.

The breeding establishment was not believed to be an intensive commercial operation the likes of the infamous Kingaroy puppy mill, which was busted with 500 poorly cared for animals several years ago.

But council officers are investigating complaints that the Gympie breeder has up to three times more dogs on the site than it is licensed for.

A Brisbane man, who bought a puppy from the breeder for $900 about a year ago, yesterday described the dogs' conditions as "disgusting".

He said the breeder advertised its dogs as not having any genetic diseases but his dog was recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a common genetic disorder in larger breeds.

"I am glad I bought her," he said. "I'm glad I look after her. I am glad she is not there any more."

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said his organisation was strongly opposed to pupping farming but that they were, in fact, not illegal unless the animals were not being properly cared for or there were more dogs than the licence allowed.

"Puppy farming is a major animal welfare issue in Australia," Mr Beatty said.

The main welfare problems associated with puppy farms included:

 Extreme confinement - in some cases, breeding animals may never be allowed out of their cage to exercise, play, socialise, have companionship or in some cases, even to go to the toilet;

 Inadequate veterinary care and general care (grooming and parasite control);

 Unhygienic living conditions;

 Inadequate and overcrowded housing conditions;

 Breeding dogs and puppies born in puppy farms often have long-term health and/or behavioural problems as a result of the poor conditions they are bred in and a lack of adequate socialisation.

Puppies from puppy farms may be sold via any avenue of sale such as the internet, newspaper ads, markets, car boot sales, pet shops or sometimes at the puppy farm itself.

Puppy farms may also use a house as a "shop front" to sell their animals from, so buyers don't get to see the true conditions they breed dogs in.

The RSPCA wants regulations in place for the breeding, supply and sale of companion animals, to help set minimum standards and stamp out puppy farms.