Puppy factories not as cute as they sound

The RSPCA is currently running a campaign against “puppy factories”: operating in Australia, treating animals poorly but – presently – subject to little more than incredibly lax regulation. They ask for your help in changing that – both by signing their petition for legislative change, and by buying your next pet from a shelter or the RSPCA.


Polly, from the RSPCA, endorses this flimsy excuse for a weekend cat photo.

My question: in a world when countless puppies and kittens and other animals are put down every day because homes cannot be found for them, why is anyone who cares about animals buying them from a petshop or commercial breeder?

UPDATE: Max, also from the RSPCA, similarly endorses any post which gives him a chance to show off for the camera:

UPDATE #2: I’d raised a question about the Defence “rising sun” campaign which is kind of irrelevant to the puppy factory issue – and was also based on the fact I didn’t know the ANZAC badge was called the “rising sun” – so I’ve removed that note to keep the comment thread on that topic.

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43 responses to “Puppy factories not as cute as they sound

  1. Rainbow, also from the RSPCA, waves to Polly.

  2. “Talking of things I saw on a billboard from the train recently, what exactly was Defence thinking when they decided to name their latest recruitment campaign after the wartime name of the only empire that has ever actually bombed Australia?”

    The latest ADF recruiting campaign does in no way make reference to Japan. The “rising sun” badge has been part of Australian tradition since around 1902, and this is what the campaign refers to. The badge itself features prominently in the campaign.

    Whilst Japan is commonly referred to as the “land of the rising sun”, the references made in the ADF campaign have no connection to the activities of the Japanese during the second world war, including the bombing of Darwin or the torpedos launched by the Japanese in Sydney Harbour.

    A cursory search of the internet would have made the context behind the campaign very clear.

  3. I didn’t know that the ANZAC-style badge was referred to as the “rising sun” badge, interesting – although I still think it’s a bit of an unfortunate association with the other meaning.

    I regret mixing it up with the RSPCA issue, to be honest. To keep this thread on topic, I’ve removed my original question that listerscat quotes in his comment (which was, as he also notes, based on being unaware of something that would be obvious to serving men and women) from the post itself, with an update noting that it’s been removed.

  4. This Campaign is just stupid. By all means lets oppose any sort of cruelty to animals but it is a nonsense to suggest that the breeding 9f companion animals is in any way different to the breeding any other sort of live stock. A good breeder will ensure that there are good living conditions for their stock, that they have adequate nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. and if that is the case what precisely is wrong with breeding cats and dogs as a commercial venture?

  5. Did you read the site? The issue is how they’re kept, which is unnecessarily cruel, and there are too few regulations on conditions. These are intelligent companion animals being treated as if they were stock.

    And why someone who loves animals would buy from a breeder when animals are being slaughtered each day because homes can’t be found, is a serious question.

    PS I don’t support the way we treat livestock, either. Hence this post.

  6. Jeremy

    Did you read the site? The issue is how they’re kept, which is unnecessarily cruel, and there are too few regulations on conditions. These are intelligent companion animals being treated as if they were stock.

    I used to breed dogs Jeremy and as a result I got to know quite a few people who did likewise. For the most part, like any farming exercise people made the calculation that keeping their stock (which is Not a derisory term BTW) in good conditions made for healthier and therefore more saleable progeny. You can not keep dogs in conditions where they are unhappy and produce good companion animals my customers would come to see how I kept my dogs and of all of the puppies that I sold I got nothing but praise from them about how fantastic they were as the grew up. Much of the campaign against breeding as a business is driven by registered breeders who have a vested interest in restricting the numbers of puppies produced so that they can maintain a premium price in the market. It is just elitism on their part.

    And why someone who loves animals would buy from a breeder when animals are being slaughtered each day because homes can’t be found, is a serious question.

    Why did you buy the particular car you bought when there are millions of perfectly serviceable cars out there that need a good home?
    There is a great deal of variety out there when it comes to companion animals and the fact of the matter is that many people want a dog or a cat that is of a particular breed or variety, they may just want to be sure that the cute Puppy that they see will have a particular type of personality or that it will have a coat that does not incite an allergic reaction in their children They may want a dog that will protect them from intruders or they may even want one that will be a child substitute but whatever they want anyone is entitled to seek and acquire the animal that they desire, while cast offs and strays certainly do need homes but they are often in the pound because they have some serious flaws or problems.
    So By all means campaign against cruelty but you should not make the mistake of thinking that just because cats and dogs are predators that their breeding is of necessity any different from the breeding of any other animal that humanity farms.

    PS I don’t support the way we treat livestock, either. Hence this post.

    Yeah, thats right you have become one of those evil vegetarians :roll:
    But then you have never had much to do animal husbandry have you?

  7. “You can not keep dogs in conditions where they are unhappy and produce good companion animals “

    If that were true, there’d be no issue with regulations catching out the people who DO treat the animals badly.

    “Why did you buy the particular car you bought when there are millions of perfectly serviceable cars out there that need a good home?”

    That’s spectacularly stupid, even for you.

    (a) cars aren’t conscious creatures who get executed; and
    (b) we bought a second-hand car.

    “whatever they want anyone is entitled to seek and acquire the animal that they desire”

    Sure. They should just know that their choice is condemning an animal to death.

    “cast offs and strays certainly do need homes but they are often in the pound because they have some serious flaws or problems.”

    That’s a small fraction of the animals there; most such animals are put down fairly quickly. Most of them are kittens and puppies, who can be trained, and the adult animals looking for homes are ones without such problems.

  8. Jeremy

    “You can not keep dogs in conditions where they are unhappy and produce good companion animals “

    If that were true, there’d be no issue with regulations catching out the people who DO treat the animals badly.

    Perhaps may meaning would have been more clear had I emphasized the word I have now emboldened in the line you quote but my point is simply that breeding companion animals as a business is not by definition cruel or in any sense evil as this campaign wants to suggest.

    “Why did you buy the particular car you bought when there are millions of perfectly serviceable cars out there that need a good home?”

    That’s spectacularly stupid, even for you.

    (a) cars aren’t conscious creatures who get executed; and
    (b) we bought a second-hand car.

    Its an analogy Jeremy meant to point out that in choosing a car (even a second hand one ) you made particular choices as to its make and model, or its colour or type. Like choosing a car most people have particular parameters that they wish to have met in the dog or cat that they choose. Just any old mutt or moggie won’t do; its called free choice.

    “whatever they want anyone is entitled to seek and acquire the animal that they desire”
    Sure. They should just know that their choice is condemning an animal to death.

    What a load of bollocks!!! No one should be expected to base their choice of companion animal on some sort of misplaced guilt.

    “cast offs and strays certainly do need homes but they are often in the pound because they have some serious flaws or problems.”

    That’s a small fraction of the animals there; most such animals are put down fairly quickly. Most of them are kittens and puppies, who can be trained, and the adult animals looking for homes are ones without such problems.

    How many companion animals have you ever owned or shared your life with Jeremy? Because if you had wider experiences to draw on you would realize that you are just repeating the RSPCA propaganda here.

    I am sure that there would be no difference between us when it comes to a desire to see an end of cruelty to animals but you obviously know very little about the subject. The real problem when it comes to the numbers of unwanted companions is the people who don’t set out to breed at all but they are unwilling to have their animals neutered. The resulting progeny are often the puppies and kittens that you think the RSPCA will have no trouble rehousing. The fact is most surrendered puppies and kittens end up being put down if the truth be known.

  9. confessions1

    I rescued one of my dogs from a puppy mill after seeing a series of dubious adverts in the supermarket. She was maximum 18mths old and the vet said she’d had at least 2 litters in her lifetime. She was malnourished to the point of having hardly any fur, had infections on her teats, and even several years with me has a serious distrust of strangers – unlike my other dogs who all love people. I called the RSPCA once I got her home – hopefully they acted.

    Commercial breeders are not the same as puppy factories, which by and large are mostly backyard breeders. It should be a requirement that only registered breeders are allowed to keep undesexed dogs and cats, and registration should be contingent upon desexing too.

    It’s possible to dob in people to my local council, which has the power to conduct spot checks and to seize unregistered dogs. Admittedly this is for the purpose of cracking down on households which exceed the number of allowable dogs, but if undesexed dogs couldn’t be registered, this would target them as well.

  10. My comment has been deleted.

    I rescued one of my dogs from a puppy mill after seeing a series of dubious adverts in the supermarket. She was seriously malnourished to the point of having almost no fur, had infections on her teats and a serious distrust of strangers – all my other dogs love people.

    Commercial breeders aren’t the same as puppy factories, which by and large are mostly backyard breeders. It should be a requirement that only registered breeders can keep undesexed dogs and cats, and registration should be ocntingent on desexing as well.

    My local council conducts spot checks on domestic dogs, and has the power to seize unregistered dogs. Admittedly this is about targetting households which exceed the number of allowable dogs, but if undesexed dogs couldn’t be registered, they’d be targetted as well.

  11. No, it was just held by moderation. I’m not sure which version you want to keep.

    Iain – you do understand that at the RSPCA or a shelter you get to choose the animal, right? They don’t just have a conveyor belt and force you take the first one that comes up.

  12. The comment there is fine, thanks.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the real problem behind dogs and cats that end up in shelters is irresponsible owners. People who refuse to desex their pets, who allow their dogs to roam, who don’t keep their cats inside, and who regard pets as novelties which can be discarded once the novelty wears off.

  13. Jeremy
    Of course I understand that you can choose the animal but the principle of my argument remains . You want to assert the moral superiority of people taking rescue animals over ones breed for sale and it is a stupid argument. There is room for both commercial breeding of companion animals and the promotion of animals from the RSPCA. It is not a dichotomy as you want to suggest.

  14. Those who buy pets from breeders because they have a particular need – such as for a low-allergy pet – aside, it IS a moral argument. If more people rescued shelter animals instead of buying from pet stores, fewer would be bred, and fewer would be unnecessarily killed.

  15. That is Bollocks Jeremy !!

    Of the number of pets sold just how many as a end up homeless???
    I will suggest that it is only a small proportion of people who are irresponsible pet owners. the vast majority pamper those pets. So in your usual draconian style you suggest that the problem is much bigger than it actually is so that you can impose entirely unnecessary controls upon both commerce and the lives of the people.

  16. I will suggest that it is only a small proportion of people who are irresponsible pet owners.

    Then you would be wrong. There are substantial numbers of pets being dumped all over this country. One of the peak dumpage times is just after christmas.

  17. Confessions
    “Substantial numbers” prove nothing in the absence of any data about about the numbers of people who own pets. I think that it is likely that more than 90% of pet owners are in fact entirely responsible owners and I invite you to prove otherwise.

  18. Iain you are the one bandying around “vast majority”, and taking issue with the premise of the RSPCA’s campaign. If anyone should have to prove their assertions it’s you.

    The fact is right around this country there are shelters bursting to capacity with dumped pets. That is a fact. They are coming from somewhere, and if the “vast majority” of pet owners were responsible for the animals they keep, I’d bet the dumpage rates would be substantially lower.

  19. Just to provide an alternate defence to Iain’s moronic insistence that “the market” offers sufficient protection against animal cruelty, I should probably post my thoughts as the owner of three pets (one dog and two cats), all bought from breeders (at great cost) and not the RSPCA.

    For me the decision to go breeder was based on a history of good natured, intelligent and enjoyable pets from both breeders. I do believe that, particularly in the case of dogs, it is important to maximise the changes of a good temperament in the animal, and a breeder that you know and trust is a good way to increase those chances.

    Which is not to say that RSPCA saved animals are necessarily worse tempered – just that there’s a greater risk that must be considered (particularly if you are considering a big dog like mine).

    I do not, however, condone the purchase of dogs or cats from pet-shops due to the ‘puupy farm’ syndrome that you have already identified.

  20. ““Substantial numbers” prove nothing

    It proves that supply outstrips demand.

    “90% of pet owners are in fact entirely responsible owners and I invite you to prove otherwise.

    You’re making the claim, the burden of proof is on you, in the meantime I have a better anecdote ;) , I’m the owner of a dog and two cats, I’ve always loved cats and dogs. Anyway, 50% of the houses in my street have dogs, about ten percent walk them daily, many of them NEVER walk their dogs, I can hear them but I don’t know what they look like, they’re merely kept as deterrents to burglars (I’m guessing) to claim that 90% of owners are responsible I reckon is bullshit. Responsible dog owners (like me) exercise their dogs (and pick up the dog shit).

  21. My old cat came from Lort Smith

    My Dog from a farm in Lang Lang

    My young cat errrrr from **Pet’s Paradise…

    **My young cat is my seven year old son’s pet, we had arranged to pick one up online, it wasn’t quite kitten season, the online kitten fell through, my son was heartbroken, my wife went to the pet shop.

  22. And to back up Mondo, and Iain to a certain extent, if you’re interested in a particular breed then a breeder is the place to go. Personally I like Aussie sheep/cattle dogs so I’m happy to have a bitzer but there are also desirable pedigrees (Airedales are particularly desirable to me) that you just are not going to get at the pound.

  23. Blast Tyrant

    Mondo, Rob – I believe that when discussing your pets on this site that pictures are also required ;-)

    I think a distinction needs to be made between breeders of specific, well um, breeds and puppy factories for pet stores.

    As for me, I think I’d just go to the local pound / shelter and grab whichever little mongrel looked like it might suit.

    Responsible dog owners (like me) exercise their dogs (and pick up the dog shit
    Well in my area there seems to be a lack of responsible dog owners and an over supply of assholes who don’t pick up after their dogs when they walk them. Fuck i hate those people.

  24. “Fuck I hate those people.”

    My dog took THREE dumps in one hour yesterday. Luckily I had plenty of shit bags. I hate my dog sometimes ;)

  25. if you’re interested in a particular breed then a breeder is the place to go.

    That’s a good point Rob, one that I had forgotten to make despite it playing a really big part in our decision. We wanted burmese cats and a black labrador (again for historical reasons), and finding purebreds like these at the pound is a very tough ask.

    We actually went and looked at the pound for our second cat but there were only mongrels available and so we went back to the breeder.

  26. Mondo, Rob – I believe that when discussing your pets on this site that pictures are also required

    I would but my cats are better looking than Jeremy’s even though one of my cats has very similar markings to his. ;)

  27. Oh yes? Prove it!

  28. Okee Dokee! (I’ll email them)

  29. You want to assert the moral superiority of people taking rescue animals over ones breed for sale and it is a stupid argument.

    It’s not stupid at all Iain – it’s perfectly cogent (and probably true). Every time you (or I) buy a puppy from a breeder instead of the RSPCA an abandoned animal will probably die. If you place a moral premium on preserving animal life then buying pets from breeders is therefore the less moral action to take.

    You may be happy (as I am) to occupy the less moral position in this instance, but don’t lie to yourself about it.

  30. Splatterbottom

    This is pure pup fiction, Jeremy. I had two dogs from the pound, and they were both violent. I swapped one and had the other put down and got one from a breeder which was bred for a calm temperament.

    Our two cats are both rescued, and very nice, but I see nothing wrong with getting dogs from breeders, particularly if you have kids. Some dogs are more equal than others.

  31. Rob J
    I have been trying to find out how many dogs are kept as pets in this country and all I can find is a a mention that 38% of households have dogs ( you do the math) now that is a lot of hounds by any measure so don’t pretend that the number surrendered to the likes of the RSPCA is anything other than a very small proportion of the canine population.
    Mondo
    I do not think that the Market will do anything to stop cruelty That is not my argument at all but I do think that it is a nonsense to suggest that a breeder who treats raising dogs as a business is by definition doing something that is cruel or morally wrong as Jeremy wants to argue.

    It’s not stupid at all Iain – it’s perfectly cogent (and probably true). Every time you (or I) buy a puppy from a breeder instead of the RSPCA an abandoned animal will probably die. If you place a moral premium on preserving animal life then buying pets from breeders is therefore the less moral action to take.

    This is just bunkum Mondo You assume a direct relationship between two entirely distinct possible transactions when there is no relationship at all. You could make the same argument about choosing one dog over another from the pound. According to your argument if you choose mutt A over mutt B then you are condemning Mutt be to the green dream.

  32. The difference Iain is that buying from a pet shop encourages the breeding of dogs when there’s already an insufficient supply of homes for them.

    Rescuing a dog is reducing the problem; engaging with the pet shops is not.

    And, contrary to your attempt to misrepresent my post (what’s the point? Everyone can see what I wrote, it’s right at the top of the comment thread) I am not saying that all breeders are cruel or anything of the sort. I’m saying that, based on the RSPCA claims, it appears that there are cruel breeders who treat their animals badly but entirely legally. And that this shouldn’t be the case.

  33. Jeremy
    Pet shops are in fact only a small part of the market for companion animals and when it comes to dogs most are sold directly to the public either through classified advertising or through contacts listed by breed associations or the likes of the Canine control Council. The latter was how I used to sell my pups.
    But you are wrong to suggest that there is no law to stop cruelty by unscrupulous breeders. They are not immune to the general laws that apply to anyone who is cruel to animals . There have certainly been some significant prosecutions of people who have abused their animals as I am sure that you will find very easily if you look.
    My objection to your post is the underlying assumption that breeding dogs or cats for a profit is wrong or cruel . It is neither.

  34. “But you are wrong to suggest that there is no law to stop cruelty by unscrupulous breeders.”

    That isn’t what I said at all. Nor is it what the RSPCA is saying.

    Does anyone with more patience than me, the special infinite patience one requires to continue persevering with Iain Hall in the vain hope that he’ll grasp the point, want to explain it to him?

  35. confessions

    No. He’s either illiterate or ignorant or both.

    Consign him to the sound of one hand clapping.

  36. Jeremy I quote you directly:

    I’m saying that, based on the RSPCA claims, it appears that there are cruel breeders who treat their animals badly but entirely legally.

    This is what you said and I tell you that you are wrong ANYONE who is cruel to dogs or cats that they own or have in their care commits a crime and they can and often are prosecuted for doing so.

  37. I’ll try once more, then I won’t bother.

    Iain. Animal cruelty as prohibited by law and prosecuted is a SUBSET of cruel ways to keep animals. Did you have a look at the RSCPA site? It demonstrated some ways that those animals are kept that aren’t presently prosecuted or capable of being prosecuted THAT SHOULD BE.

    Or did I lose you at the word “subset”?

    By the way, good work on resurrecting one of your creepy old campaigns over the weekend. Reformed, sure you are.

  38. misterpepper

    Hi here.

    I stumbled across this blog while checking to see if there was any online discussion about the recent RSPCA puppy factory campaign. As it turns out, there is. I’m one of the two ad guys who came up with the whole campaign – the copywriter half. So perhaps my opinion may count for something. Or perhaps I should shut the hell up and get back to lunch. Anyway, Jeremy, thank you. You’ve got the point of the campaign exactly right.

    The RSPCA is not trying to deter the public from purchasing pets from reputable breeders and go so far as to provide advice on how to distinguish a reputable breeder from a possible puppy factory. I know because I wrote it. They are suggesting though that the public stop buying pets from pet shops as roughly 95% of these pets are produced in puppy factories. The fact is, no reputable breeder would allow their dogs to be sold in a pet shop. Of course the RSPCA suggest as an alternative that the public rescue a dog from a shelter. Why wouldn’t they? But they do understand that people will always want a particular breed not necessarily available from a shelter.

    Iain, it’s obvious you haven’t even been to the site. Check it out.

    The whole point of this campaign is to try to get the laws tightened so the RSPCA can prosecute. At present, law stipulates that only the most basic standard of care is provided – a puddle that passes as water, some rotting, fly blown food, and perhaps a sheet of tin leaning against a tree in the mud or a tiny cage with a tarp over it.

    Thanks again, Jeremy, for spreading the word.

  39. madashellandnotgonnatakeitanymore

    If misterpepper really worked on the new puppy factory ad campaign, perhaps he can explain why he chose that particular story by Tracey Jackson. The matter refered to, involved a simple breach of duty of care, for failing to take reasonable steps to provide appropriate accommodation, albeit for a large number of animals. Surely there are better examples of actual animal cruelty that could have been used.
    Why is the RSPCA using the unnamed but easily identified “offenders” as an example in this case when so much worse treatment is dealt out to animals on a daily basis from people with just one pet?
    Is it just me or does it seem like the RSPCA want to become Australias largest, if not only, warehouse for animals and where will the animals that fill their shelters/”adoption centres” come from if they stamp out breeders, as their campaign seems to intend?

  40. I think it’s just you. The RSPCA would LOVE the number of abandoned animals requiring shelter to drop. The problem is too many animals, not enough homes or resources for them. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the RSCPA could actually enjoy having so many animals they have to put them down.

  41. madashellandnotgonnatakeitanymore

    That’s funny! I’ve never heard of any “Puppy Farm/Factory” complaining that they have to euthanise barrow loads of animals. That’s because they actually meet the market demand for their “Commodity”. If the RSPCA was serious about finding shelter for animals they’d stop seizing large numbers of them under the spurious guise of law enforcement and start using their $4 million marketing budget to advertise them at reasonable prices to ensure their affordability and placement in to loving homes.
    If you want to shut down Australia’s biggiest puppy factory then shut down the RSPCA.

  42. “I’ve never heard of any “Puppy Farm/Factory” complaining that they have to euthanise barrow loads of animals. That’s because they actually meet the market demand for their “Commodity”.”

    Um, what? That’s because they don’t rescue the abandoned animals that people leave behind – including the ex-puppy farm animals, bought on a whim at pet stores and then abandoned.

    The point is that there are too many animals and not enough homes for them, and the breeders are adding to the problem.

    “If the RSPCA was serious about finding shelter for animals they’d stop seizing large numbers of them under the spurious guise of law enforcement”

    What? The RSPCA only takes animals that are being abused or abandoned.

    “and start using their $4 million marketing budget to advertise them at reasonable prices to ensure their affordability and placement in to loving homes.”

    Their what?

    “If you want to shut down Australia’s biggiest puppy factory then shut down the RSPCA.”

    The RSPCA doesn’t produce animals, it rescues the ones left behind.

    I fail to see either how you could classify it as a “puppy factory” or how you could suggest that shutting it down would be a step forward. What would happen to the animals the RSCPA rescues then?

    Obviously you’ve got some crazy bee in your bonnet about the RSCPA, but seriously, what you’re saying makes no sense.

  43. madashellandnotgonnatakeitanymore

    “That’s because they don’t rescue the abandoned animals that people leave behind – including the ex-puppy farm animals, bought on a whim at pet stores and then abandoned.”

    Nor do they have to gather long term knowledge of breed traits and temperaments, etc. They simply swoop in on their white charger and seize perfectly good dogs and puppies from people who have often spent a lifetime breeding them, so that they can put them in the RSPCA’s own “shop window”.

    If the RSPCA only tried to rehome the abandoned animals of which you speak (without any actual factual basis for your claims) instead of seizing high-end pure bred animals from breeders, perhaps they would have more success with bringing down their KILL Rate and thereby have less to complain about. Oh but that’s right, when the RSPCA complain about how many animals they kill they also use it as an opportunity to pass the hat around so they can keep lining their pockets.
    Are you seriously going to claim that an animal is better off dead at an RSPCA shelter, than being alive with a breeder who may be genuinely doing the best they can in a struggling economy?

    What? The RSPCA only takes animals that are being abused or abandoned.

    Who says….The RSPCA?
    Who checks these claims? No-one.
    Who stands up to fight against these kind of charges….almost no-one!
    Why not? Because the cost of fighting a legal battle against a corporate giant is too daunting for most unless you too have very deep pockets or a bit of nouse and the tenacity of a pit bull.

    “Their what?”

    Did I stutter?
    Their $4 million dollar marketing budget. It's on the net. Look it up in their annual report.

    What would happen to the animals the RSCPA rescues then?

    Perhaps they wouldn't be sorted into "Cute", Not-so-cute", "Too old", "Too Ugly", etc and those "rescued" animals not fitting a neat little re-sale selection criteria designed by the bean counters at the RSPCA might actually be given a chance to find thier way into the homes of people who aren’t necessaily looking for the cutest, youngest, best breed, etc.

    Obviously you’ve got some crazy bee in your bonnet about the RSCPA, but seriously, what you’re saying makes no sense.

    Yes I have a bee. Not a crazy one though. A tenacious one! And for anyone with their eyes actually open…It makes perfect sense!

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