Cruelty And The Council

Home   >   Latest News   |   19 Apr 2018

The story of cruelty,  corruption — and a council who refused to act.

Last year we investigated a horrendous puppy factory within Berrigan Shire Council in Southern NSW ran by local puppy farmer, Pam Edwards. Berrigan Shire Council simply turned a blind eye.

In fact, they refused to even acknowledge she was running a puppy factory. Even though this puppy factory was in breach of the state government’s code of practice, in breach of local government by-laws and in breach of the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

When it became clear that Berrigan Shire Council were ignoring us and refusing to do their job, we quickly lodged another complaint, this time with RSPCA NSW.

Thankfully the RSPCA (along with their vet) raided the property and removed a large number of dogs that were being kept in appalling conditions in tiny cages, clearly in urgent need of veterinary attention, ear infections, dental disease, open and untreated wounds. The attending RSPCA vet was able to provide medical treatment immediately on site and many of the dogs were taken to RSPCA where they received ongoing vet work and rehabilitation.

Had the council chosen to do their job rather than decide to protect Pam Edwards' illegal business, these dogs could have been saved earlier.  We’re unsure if all residents within Berrigan Shire Council are allowed to operate a business without the required council permits or the relevant building permits. One only presumes that all residents are treated equally. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Pam Edwards' cousins, the Hams of Banksia Park Puppies, in an effort to escape strict new Victorian legislation, decided to spend over $500,000 in purchasing a property within the same shire for their proposed 100 dog puppy factory.

Pam Edwards attended court with approximately eight of her friends. Also coming to her defence was her local vet, who apparently didn’t see anything wrong with Edwards’ puppy factory or any of her dogs. The court was told that Pam had chosen to rehome the remaining dogs with her cousin, Colin Hamms. We will leave you to decide whether this relocation of the dogs is actually ‘rehoming’.

Unbelievably, the magistrate ignored RSPCA’s request for a banning order and instead chose to simply impose a good behaviour bond on Pam Edwards. No fines, no criminal conviction, no banning order - just a 2-year good behaviour bond.  

Despite her guilty plea to cruelty charges, Pam Edwards showed absolutely no remorse for the suffering these dogs endured. In fact after the case concluded, Pam and her friends walked from court laughing, celebrating their ‘win’ and were heard joking and saying; "well wasn’t that a waste of time” whilst looking in the direction of two RSPCA inspectors.

Pam and her entourage also showed themselves to be callous and uncaring by attempting to intimidate anyone that was in the courtroom to witness the atrocities these dogs endured.

Currently in NSW, the code of practice cannot be utilised unless there is a complaint made, and even then, only if those in authority choose to do their job. Many puppy factories that Oscar’s Law has exposed in NSW have never been inspected by the local councils that issued the original development application. In several cases, puppy factories have gone unchecked for over 15 years! 

The industry in NSW is self-regulated and many councils are seemingly complicit. It is time that laws were amended in NSW to bring them into line with recent changes to the Victorian legislation. Puppy farmers are moving out of Victoria in order to escape this legislation and we should not allow them to hide in other states with weaker laws.

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