Regulations for Dog Breeders
Dog breeding enterprises are often referred to in the community as "Puppy farms".
Government Laws regarding the management of dog breeding establishments apply to many smaller scale dog breeders as well as large commercial breeders.
Definition of a Breeding Domestic Animal Business?
The definition of a breeding establishment was changed in January 2012, to maximize the number of breeders required to register with local councils and comply with the mandatory Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Establishments. Registration enables councils to inspect businesses regularly, to ensure they meet the minimum standards for animal welfare outlined in the Code.
The law requires breeders to register as a breeding domestic animal business if they have three or more fertile female dogs AND they sell dogs (whether a profit is made or not).
This does not affect the number of desexed animals an owner may have (as long as owners comply with any local council requirements regarding excess animal permits)
The exemption for this registration as a domestic animal business is if the breeder belongs to an applicable breeding organisation that requires its members to operate in accordance with a Code of Ethics. View a list of current applicable organisations.
Breeders who belong to one of these organizations will be regarded as domestic animal businesses, and required to register with their local council, if they have 10 or more fertile female dogs.
In 2012 the Government significantly increased penalties associated with breeding establishment offences. For instance, the maximum penalty for operators of breeding establishments who commit acts of cruelty increased from $1,195 to $20,000, for puppy farms operating illegally and $30,000 for those operating below required standards.
The maximum penalties for operators who commit acts of cruelty was also doubled. Individual breeders may face penalties of up to $30,000 and 12 months prison for cruelty and up to $60,000 and 24 months prison for aggravated cruelty. For corporate entities the financial penalties will be $73,300 for cruelty and $146,688 aggravated cruelty.
The courts are able to ban illegal operators from participating in the breeding industry or keeping or selling cats or dogs for up to 10 years.
Other penalty increases relate to offences such as conducting a business on unregistered premises, or not in accordance with a code of practice, along with selling a pet shop animal from anywhere other than a registered domestic animal business or private residence.
Seizure of animals for non-compliance
In response to council calls for increased powers to deal with puppy farms, the legislation has been amended to give councils and RSPCA inspectors the ability to apply for court orders to seize animals from non-compliant and unregistered breeding premises.
Microchip numbers and advertisements
To allow traceability of sellers of pets, it is an offence to advertise the sale of a dog or cat unless the microchip identification number of the animal is included in the advertisement or notice.
A registered domestic animal business may use its Council business registration number as an alternative.
Review of the Code of Practice
The Government is currently reviewing the Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Establishments.
For information on:
- planning permits for use of premises for dog breeding;
- registration of commercial dog breeding establishments;
- registration of the individual dogs in commercial breeding establishments;
please contact your local council.