Puppy Farm or Backyard Breeder - Is There a Difference?
Puppy farm or backyard breeder – is there a difference?
A puppy farm is an intensive dog breeding facility operated under poor conditions that does not meet the nutritional, behavioural or psychological needs of the dogs bred and raised there.
RSPCA refers to this type of operation as backyard or irresponsible dog breeding, while the community has identified with the term puppy farm for those larger operations that hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Dogs in puppy farms often suffer from extreme confinement, in many cases never allowed out of their cages, inadequate vet care, unhygienic living conditions, overcrowding and more often than not have genetic faults from in-breeding. As a result, dogs from puppy farms suffer long term physical and psychological harm.
“Puppy farm” conjures up images of hundreds of dogs locked in small cages but the reality is that dogs bred in backyards by amateur breeders can suffer just as much harm. Conditions may be just as inadequate as a large scale operation.
While we are fortunate that there are not many large scale commercial puppy farms in Western Australia, they do exist here, often hidden from public view by unscrupulous operators.
In one case, dogs were found hidden three metres below ground level in an underground bunker on a property in South Doodlakine. Forty-one dogs of various breeds and a pony were found on the property. The property owner had previously been banned from owning animals and, after the bunker discovery, was again found guilty of animal cruelty and banned from going within 10 metres of any animal.
Farmers who breed working dogs may ask what these kinds of scenarios have to do with them and why they should take part in the legislation to stop puppy farming by registering as breeders or having their dogs de-sexed if they don’t apply for breeder registration.
It’s important to emphasise that the puppy farm legislation, which could be more accurately described as dog breeding legislation, has a number of elements. It’s not simply a ban on “puppy farming,” however defined, rather, it outlines the minimum conditions under which dogs can be bred. This is usually done via compulsory breeding standards, including how breeding bitches are to be dealt with at the end of their productive lives, and it establishes a traceability system to ensure puppies can be traced back to a breeder. This is essential for detecting poor breeding operations.
Any type or breed of dog can come from a puppy farm (purebred dogs, crossbreeds, mixed breeds), so you cannot judge whether a dog has been bred in adequate conditions based on the breed or type of dog. Dogs of the types used for on farm work are often advertised for sale on the internet and in classified ads. And, working dog breeds are among the most common breeds to end up in animal shelters and rescues.
The more exemptions that are given, the more holes there are in the traceability system. Working dog breeding practices are not always beyond reproach and working dogs are no different to any other breed of dog in terms of the impact poor breeding practices can have on their welfare and also their gene pool.