Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about sourcing a puppy ethically, puppy factories and legislation, and dog breeding/responsible pet ownership. If you have a question that isn't answered below, please email us at info[at]oscarslaw.org and one of our team will get back to you.
What are puppy factories?
Puppy factories are intensive breeding facilities for companion animals, which put profit ahead of welfare. Puppy factory dogs are frequently denied adequate food, water and shelter, and their veterinary care and social needs are completely disregarded. Breeding dogs are permanently confined their entire lives and forced to breed back to back litters. Most suffer painful, untreated health conditions including eye infections, ear infections and mammary tumours. Puppy factory dogs are never patted, never walked, never shown any love. They're never allowed to love and nurture their puppies, which are taken from them at a few weeks old. When their exhausted bodies are no longer able to breed these pitiful creatures are killed and replaced.
These cruel facilities supply pet shops with puppies, where they are sold to the public as being from "reputable breedersâ€ť. They often have serious illnesses or defects from bad breeding practices, with many of them becoming sick and dying before being sold. While some consumers may think buying a puppy from a pet shop or online ad is helping them, it is actually financially supporting one of Australia's cruelest industries.
What sort of health problems are you talking about?
Many breeds of dogs have conditions that they are prone to, such as hip dysplasia, chronic skin conditions, overshot jaws and heart murmurs. Good breeders test their breeding dogs for these conditions prior to mating. Puppy factories do not and, as they have no contact with the puppies once they have left the factory, they have no idea what genetic defects they are continuing to breed into these puppies.
Why doesn't the RSPCA shut down puppy factories?
The RSPCA support and campaign for a ban on puppy factories, but because puppy factories and intensive breeding facilities are not illegal, the RSPCA does not have the power to just end puppy factories. They only have the power to work within the current legislation, which is weak and does not adequately protect animals. Both Oscar's Law and the RSPCA lobby to have these laws changed so that dogs receive more protection with the end goal of banning puppy factories altogether.
Note: Under the current legislation, the RSPCA has the power to investigate puppy factories, and at times seize dogs, however only if the cruelty is severe enough and there are breaches of the code of practice.
Where can I source a puppy ethically?
As an organization, Oscar's Law is a big advocate for adoption and we encourage supporters to consider rescuing their next best friend. There are thousands of animals looking for a home in shelters or with rescue groups. A good place to start is Pet Rescue.
In circumstance where adoption isn't an option, the RSPCA's Smart Puppy Buyer's Guide should be strictly followed to ensure you are not supporting a backyard breeder or a puppy factory.
What happens to puppies that aren't bought from pet shops?
A lot of consumers believe that purchasing a puppy from a pet shop is 'rescuing them', however this is not true. When puppies outgrow their 'cute' and marketable stage, they are surrendered to rescue groups and shelters, where they receive appropriate vet care, desexing and are adopted out to the right home through an adoption process.
Choosing to purchase a puppy from a pet shop with the well-meaning intention of helping them simply fuels the puppy trade, and condemns the puppy's parents to prolonged suffering inside the puppy factory they came from. Remember, these places only still exist because consumers continue to be fooled by them!
What happens to ex-breeding stock on puppy factories?
Dogs should not be bred every heat cycle as it is bad for their bodies. Puppy factory bitches are bred every time they come into heat, until there body can no longer produce puppies. Once the dog is no longer useful for breeding it is destroyed and replaced by one of her female pups.
Dogs rescued from puppy factories are often very difficult to rehome. They have known nothing but a cage their entire life and struggle to cope with the outside world. Many of these dogs cannot be rehabilitated as pets and will be euthanised. The ones that are saved will need special care their entire lives.
Is Oscar's Law opposed to breeding dogs?
No we are not against dog breeding; we are opposed to factory farming pets. We love dogs and don't want to see the extinction of our wonderful companions by banning all breeding. We believe there are better ways to keep, breed and find your new 'best friend'. Puppy factories inflict cruelty and deprive dogs of their basic needs and there is no justification for factory farming our pets.
We strongly promote adoption as there is nothing more rewarding than saving a life. We do recognise that some people will search for a particular breed and want a puppy, we recommend you do your research when finding an ethical breeder, just because they are registered doesn't mean they are ethical! Check out the RSPCA's Smart Puppy Buyer's Guide for further information on how to buy a puppy without supporting puppy factories.
What is the difference between a legal and an illegal puppy factory?
Whilst puppy factories are currently completely legal across Australia, they can only legally operate when they are attached to a permit from the council to run a 'domestic animal business'. When they are approved for the permit, this means they are registered; this is why we always stress the importance of the difference between registered breeders and registered reputable breeders.
Puppy factories that operate without a permit are known as illegal puppy factories.
What is the difference between a registered business and a registered breeder?
Many people think that puppy factories are illegal, however as long as they are registered with their local council as a domestic animal business, they are then considered a registered puppy factory and are totally legal.
Because legal puppy factories are "registeredâ€ť, many pet shops selling their puppies tell consumers they come from registered breeders, when in fact this is untrue, as they are simply a registered business.
Registered breeders registered with a kennel council are not allowed to sell puppies to pet shops. If they did, they would be deregistered as it is against their code of practice.
I thought puppy factories and pet shop puppies were being banned in Victoria?
During their 2014 state election campaign, the Victorian Labor Party made a promise to:
1.Ban the sale of puppies in pet shops - instead turning them into adoption centres where rescue groups can hold adoption days.
2.Put restrictions on breeding facilities, including limiting the maximum number of breeding dogs to 10. These restrictions will take away absolutely any financial incentive to breed dogs, given that currently some puppy factories have up to 300 dogs to turn a profit.
However, writing, passing and enacting legislation is no simple task, and shutting down any industry will always involve a roll-out period. The legislation will be tabled and passed in the first half of 2016, with the roll-out completed by 2020.
In the meantime, measures have been introduced to tackle the hundreds of illegal puppy factories across Victoria, including pet shops required to keep records of where they are getting their puppies from, and extra funding given to the RSPCA.
I am concerned about where the puppies come from at my local pet shop; can you find out for me?
We often receive requests from concerned supporters asking us to check out their local pet shop because they are worried the puppies and kittens there come from cruel intensive breeding factories. While we love your passion for the cause, we can confirm without a doubt that all pet shops dealing with puppies get their 'stock' from either puppy factories, or backyard breeders, which are just as bad.
The reasoning for this is simple - no registered REPUTABLE breeders are allowed to sell their puppies to pet shops as it is against their code of ethics. If a pet shop tells you that their puppies come from reputable breeders, they are lying.
Voice your concerns for puppies in pet shops by complaining to shopping centre managements, the local council and the RSPCA (if there is a breach of the code of practice).
If you don't support pet shops selling puppies, what do you propose families do with their 'accidental litters'?
We are big advocates for desexing companion animals - not just because it avoids 'accidental litters' - but because it almost eliminates the chance of your best friend forming reproductive cancers, stops them from going through uncomfortable and frustrating heat cycles and makes them easier to take out in public.
We are absolutely against pet shops taking in 'accidental litters', because they in turn pay the owners of the dog for the puppies, creating an incentive for further indiscriminate backyard breeding.
In the case where a dog falls pregnant accidentally, we would encourage the owner to do the right thing and surrender the puppies to one of the many rescue groups or shelters across Australia - where they will be desexed, micro chipped, vaccinated and adopted out to a suitable home through an adoption process - not an impulse buy at a pet shop.
What is wrong with cross-breed dogs?
Nothing! Cross breed dogs are just as likely to make a wonderful pet as a pure breed. But because puppy factory dogs are mass produced and kept in isolated conditions until purchase, they have a high likelihood of suffering from behavioural and health problems.
Why don't you campaign on kitten farms?
Oscar's Law has exposed kitten/cat factories in the past and we acknowledge the severe problem of cat overbreeding. However, breeding cats has proven to be less commercially and financially viable than breeding puppies, and in our experience is more a backyard breeding/hoarding situation. Oscar's Law ensures that cats and kittens are included whenever politicians are legislating on companion animals, including the news laws soon to come into effect in Victoria.