Call for information on illegal sales of animals in public places

RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team is currently seeking information from the public regarding the alleged sale of puppies in public places. RSPCA Victoria Inspectors are investigating two separate alleged brokers and breeders – one selling puppies in public in the Mitchell Shire Council, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Whittlesea Council areas, the other in the Colac Otway Shire area.

It is alleged the puppies were being sold from public areas near schools, service stations and carparks. The breeds included Bull Terriers, Great Danes and Kelpies, some of which allegedly required veterinary treatment soon after purchase.

The sale of animals in public places such as parks, roadsides and car parks is illegal. Members of the public who may have information relating to the sale of puppies in these areas are urged to contact RSPCA Victoria directly as soon as possible.

The sale of animals in public places became illegal with the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Act 2017, which introduced a range of amendments to the Domestic Animals Act 1994. These amendments deliver on the Victorian Government’s election commitment to reform the state’s dog breeding and pet shop industries and better regulate the sale of dogs and cats.

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 specifies that dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.

RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate Team Leader – Major Investigations, Lisa Calleja, said that compared to previous years, a higher number of reports related to the sale of animals in public places had been received during the pandemic.

“High demand for pets during the pandemic meant many Victorians sought alternate sales channels and unknowingly purchased animals from illegal businesses that sell animals from public places to hide the location of their operations.

“The subjects of RSPCA Victoria investigations are often sophisticated networks that use covert methods so our Inspectorate team relies on the public for information that may assist with investigations.

“Significant investigations and successful prosecutions do eventuate as a direct result of tip offs from the public so we encourage anyone with information to make a report. Sometimes things that may seem insignificant can be the missing element in an investigation,” stated Ms Calleja.

Penalties can apply for individuals or body corporates who sell dogs and cats from a public place. Individuals could face a maximum penalty in court of $4,835, while body corporates could face a maximum penalty of $24,178.

RSPCA Victoria recommends people looking to become a pet owner read the RSPCA Smart Puppy and Kitten Buyer’s Guide, which provides useful guideless and tips for finding a reputable breeder. These include:

? visiting the place where the puppy or kitten was born;

? meeting the mother dog or cat (and father if possible) and make sure they’re happy and healthy; and

? checking the breeder provides a high standard of care and living conditions for all their animals.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via www.rspcavic.org/services/tip-off or by calling 9224 2222. Facebook messages and emails through unofficial channels do not constitute an official cruelty report. All details, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are welcome and all tip offs are reviewed.

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