Why don’t you just register as a Domestic Animal Business and follow the Code of Practice?  Don’t you want to follow the rules?

DOGS Victoria breeders welcome accountability.  We are already registered under our own association, and we sign up to a code of practice (COP) which in many cases has far more stringent conditions than the government’s COP.  

But we believe that the “rules” that are in place for registering a Domestic Animals Business (DAB) are poorly suited for regulating us, and will in fact have the opposite effect of what was intended – it will force breeding dogs out of the home and into kennels.

As much as the government tries to tell us that is not their intent, we believe they have misunderstood the reality of the regulatory environment they are trying to force us into.

This is why we are seeking a legislative review – so that solutions that are workable and better meet the government’s intent, can be found.

The government has said if you only have five dogs the Code of Practice (COP) doesn’t require you to put your dogs in kennels.  Isn’t this true?

The COP does have allowances for those breeders who have five or less dogs to not have kennels built, this is correct.  However, it doesn’t force Councils to approve a DAB permit under these circumstances and we believe very few will be.

Councils have a range of both State government legislation, and their own local laws and policies to abide by when making these sorts of decisions.  Over time, this has resulted in a reluctance to approve smaller scale, non-kennelled, breeding establishments.

We do not believe that Domestic Animals Business (DAB) permits will be easy, or in many locations even possible, to obtain under current local government guidelines, without concrete runs and kennels on rural land.

Why would you ever need to have more than five dogs anyway?

It may seem strange, but the reason we often end up with additional numbers of dogs at home, is not because we want large numbers to breed from, but actually because they are such loved family members.

A dog’s breeding life is much shorter than their entire life.  And we love them.  It is very hard for us to ever let them go to a new home, and many of us just don’t do it.  

So we might have:

  • a dog or two, or even three, who have retired from breeding and showing and continue to take up their spot on our couches
  • a young one or two who are currently being shown, and may or may not be bred from
  • perhaps a rescue or a rehome who is with us temporarily.  

It is pretty easy to make it to five.

That being said, there are a great number of our members who have only two or three dogs at home.

Shouldn’t there be no dog breeding allowed until there are no dogs in rescue?

While it is tragic that there continues to be dogs in rescue and pounds all over the country, we don’t believe that attempting to ban all puppy breeding will resolve that.  In fact, stopping the right kind of puppy breeding, while sending underground the wrong type, could very well make it worse.

Puppies raised by ethical, registered DOGS Victoria breeders are much less likely to end up in rescue.  They are well socialised from the start.  New owners are interviewed carefully to ensure they are equipped and able to properly care for the type of breed they are buying for a lifetime.  And they are supported through those challenging puppy and adolescent months to raise a well-rounded dog that fits into their household.  On those rare occasions it doesn’t work out, the breeder will take the dog back to find it a new home.

The dogs in rescue regularly have a pretty bad start in life, and most likely weren’t with the right owners in the first place.  The vast majority come from puppy farms, or irresponsible “back yard breeders”.  

While we admire all owners who take on a rescue, and many of us have rescues ourselves, we know that their breed and background doesn’t always make them suitable for all families.  And unsuitability is often the reason they ended up in rescue in the first place.

If you attempt to stop all dog breeding, the easiest ones to stop are the ethical ones because they try to do the right thing and are there in the open. Eradicating the good breeding, while leaving the bad, will not do anything to halt the amount of dogs in rescue.  

We believe better measures are to try and limit the bad breeders, while encouraging the good who can better educate and support owners to prevent dogs needing rescue in the first place.

I’ve seen media reports of puppy farmers who are DOGS Victoria breeders.  So aren’t you just puppy farmers with a different name?  Why haven’t you stopped them?

Any group would be crazy to try and say there weren’t “bad eggs” amongst them.  And yes, we have had members who have done the wrong thing in the past.

If you think it makes you mad, can you imagine how angry it makes us to see our beloved dogs betrayed in this way?

What frustrates us is that we don’t currently have any powers to do much about those of our members who do the wrong thing.  We have to wait until local Councils or the RSPCA prosecute.  This is one of the things we would like to talk to the government about.

Without all breeders being registered as a DAB, how can we tell a good breeder from a bad one?

We don’t believe that simply seeing a DAB registration number in an advertisement is any guarantee that you have found a good breeder.  All it will do is ensure some minimum welfare standards are abided by, often in a kennel environment.

To really find a good breeder, you need to talk to them about how their dogs are kept and pups raised, ask about the health testing they do, and find out about their breeding approach.

We believe the best breeders are those who health test appropriately for their breed, who raise their puppies in a home environment, who screen puppy buyers for suitability, provide lifetime support for new owners, and will take back any dogs who don’t work out or who need to be rehomed, to find them a new forever family.

I’ve seen the prices you charge for puppies.  How can you say you’re not a business making a profit?

Getting a well bred and well raised, pedigree puppy, of the breed of your choice, is certainly not inexpensive.  But we can assure you, breeding and raising that puppy has very high costs associated with it.

From establishing new blood lines, to health clearances, the “testing” of breeding lines through the show and performance rings, veterinary bills, petrol, food and supplies, and inevitably the time that must be taken from day jobs to suitably care for a litter.  All of these add up very quickly indeed.

The price you pay goes some way to meeting those expenses.  But in most cases, DOGS Victoria breeders put far more money into their beloved breed, than is ever reimbursed through puppy sales.

Isn’t any breeder who breeds from home just a “backyard breeder"? Isn’t that what it means?

A backyard breeder is a term often used to describe someone who breeds their own dogs for sale, often to make some money, or because it seems like a good thing to do.  They generally aren’t a member of any appropriate body or a signatory to a code of practice or ethics.  They breed with whichever dogs are convenient, without thought to the suitability of the match, and they don’t perform suitable health testing.  They certainly perform very little screening of puppy buyers for suitability, and offer little or no ongoing support.

Under the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farm and Pet Shops) Bill 2016, the government treats backyard breeders and ethical registered DOGS Victoria breeders as the same thing.  We would argue they are very different.

Will the change affect my ability to buy a purebred puppy?

Unfortunately, yes. A large number of small scale breeders will simply not be able to afford to register as a Domestic Animal Business (DAB) or meet the strict requirements.

There will also be a number of breeders who will not be willing to comply with the requirements, not because they don’t care about animal welfare, but because their dogs are part of their family and the requirements of a DAB mean that with as few as six dogs they will be forced to separate their males and females, many of whom live happily as a family now. They will also have to have custom made kennels for their dogs and whelp litters under certain conditions which sadly preclude most of us whelping litters inside our homes.

If these breeders do give up, there will still be some breeders who can afford the requirements, however with limited supply it is expected that prices will go up and you can expect to wait a long time for the breed of your choice.

How are DogsVictoria breeders different from puppy farmers and backyard breeders?

Dogs Victoria members are subject to a Code of Ethics for breeding, along with a number of rules and regulations. These all aim to set a minimum standard for our breeding animals to secure their health and well being.

Dogs Victoria identifies breaches of the regulations through information in their database and through information supplied by members and general public. Dogs Victoria then investigate potential breaches and discipline members where a breach has been found, so there is a process to hold breeders to account if they are not compliant.

Luckily, this is only needed in a minority of cases, because most members of Dogs Victoria want to comply with the Code of Ethics not because there are penalties, but because they love their dogs and want to breed healthy, happy, well socialised puppies. While some Dogs Victoria members may make a profit from their puppies a large number do not. Even those that do make a profit will use that as a future investment in their dog.

Puppy farmers use animals for profit, without regard for the well being of their puppies or breeding animals. They do not care what happens to their puppies once they have been sold.

How does DogsVictoria ensure new breeders know and comply with the welfare standards?

In order to become a new breeder there are a range of requirements, including a minimum of 12 months as a DOGSVic member, a breeder’s exam, support from a registered DOGSVic breeder mentor, and knowledge and adherence to the various Rules, Regulations and Codes.  That said, DOGSVic is looking at further ways of improving the education and support of new breeder members.

If you are already complying with the Dogs Victoria Code of Ethics, this shouldn’t affect you, why are you worried?

Registration as a Domestic Animal Business (DAB) is up to the discretion of the individual Local Council. There are reports that councils are asking anywhere from $250 to $3,500 for registration as a DAB, annually. Someone with only one entire female who plans to breed will need to register as a DAB to do so, and the cost of this registration will make it affordable for many hobby breeders, particularly those who are retired (and in a really good position to raise and socialise a litter of puppies).  DABs would need to be issued annually, but can be very complex.  There are a few registered breeders – (e.g they may have boarding kennels, or could be specialist working/assistance dog breeders) who do have DABs already – they have told that it can take several years to obtain a DAB, and that the process is both expensive, time consuming and complex, and involved planning approvals and building permits.

Because registration as a DAB is up to the discretion of the council, hobbyist breeders are also concerned that their councils will deny their applications and therefore, despite doing the right thing, they may be stopped before they can even start.  In fact many Councils have already announced they will not accept DAB applications from small hobby breeders, with many stating that this is because they don’t have the time or resources to do DABs or to meet their obligations for monitoring and enforcement under the new regulations.

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