In a win for animal retailers and breeders across NSW, the amended Puppy Farms bill has passed the NSW upper house by just one vote.

The legislation must now pass the lower house in order to become law, which is no certainty, and will continue to need lobbying from industry associations in order be pushed through.

Amongst the amendments is that pet shops who are members of an applicable industry association will now be able to sell puppies and kittens provided they are sourced from approved registered breeders.

For breeders, the lifetime litters for breeding females will now be capped at five instead of the previously proposed two, with a maximum of 50 breeding females at a commercial breeding facility at any point in time, and a 1:25 staff to dog ratio.

Anthony Ramsey, President of the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA), said if passed by the NSW Legislative Assembly, it will mean its members – breeders or pet retailers – will be able to continue to operate viable professional pet businesses.

“There is still some of the practical finer detail that needs to be clarified, but on the surface PIAA members likely already meet the requirements set out by the legislation and will be able to continue to operate in much the same manner as they already have.

“Commercial breeders and retailers who are not PIAA members will need to review their operations and look at joining an organisation like PIAA to continue to operate, if they can demonstrate they meet the required high standard.”

This standard requires all PIAA breeding and retail members who sell puppies and kittens to submit a comprehensive annual vet audit of their business premises and procedures, with Ramsey stating that the PIAA will review this prior to the enaction of the legislation with a view to perhaps increasing the frequency of the audit or introducing random spot checks.

John Grima, Managing Director of Kellyville Pets, said the bill with its current amendments seems to be an acceptable solution to achieve the aim of stamping out puppy farms.

“This bill will shine a light on the already responsible breeders and pet shops working to this standard, while weeding out or forcing others to fall in line.  

“We already work under these standards and much more. Some retailers who do not already participate in these higher standards will be forced to comply or forced to stop selling puppies and kittens which is a positive outcome for both the industry and animal welfare.”

Ramsey said the bill lays the platform to have its desired effect of ridding the industry of unscrupulous breeders, but it will come down to the resources invested in compliance.

“If people are allowed to snub the legislation and get away with it, then its effectiveness is only as good as the standard set by enforcement authorities.”

Ramsey said this bill will likely influence Queensland legislation, as they are currently reviewing their companion animal breeding legislation.

“Rather than reinvent the wheel, it makes sense to emulate what has already been developed and refined in other states. Afterall, this NSW legislation is a refined version of Victorian legislation implemented over three years ago now, having been adapted to account for learnings from Victoria.”

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