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Steve

Filthy, Hungry And Cramped: Alleged Puppy Factory Raided Read More: H

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Steve   

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They were found filthy, hungry and cramped together in small cages. Some of them were seriously sick.

Almost 120 small dogs and puppies owned by a show dog breeder were taken from an alleged puppy farm in Longwood in northern Victoria on Tuesday. Four dead dogs were also removed.

The breeder Heather Healey, an active show dog enthusiast with prize-winning dogs who runs the Euroa Kennel Club, is secretary of the Chihu club of Victoria

The team of 21 RSPCA staff was investigating suspicions of large-scale animal cruelty at the properties.

Six cats were also taken into care, with one seized and five surrendered to RSPCA Inspectors.

"All of the animals were taken into care because of immediate and serious concerns for their welfare," a spokesperson said. "They were allegedly found to be living in small cages and squalid conditions, both inside and outside the residences. Veterinarians attending the premises also identified a number of health and husbandry concerns."

Ms Healey was caught in a hidden camera sting by Animal Liberation Victoria back in 2010 after complaints to Strathbogie Council went unheeded.

Footage from the sting showed groups of excited dogs kept together in small wire pens and baby cots.

A woman involved in the 2010 sting, Stephanie Rodda, said she broke down crying upon seeing how the dogs were kept.

She said they jumped up and down desperate to be let out or held, while others shivered in a corner in fear of people.

"When I entered the house the first thing I noticed was the constant barking of many dogs and mess everywhere... I felt dizzy from the odour," Ms Rogga said.

"They do not get let out of these pens for the duration of their whole life.

Another woman who went to buy a dog from the breeder, Kate Hallam, a 39-year-old veterinary nurse, described seeing small cots holding up to eight dogs. She said the smell was "disgusting".

"The conditions that we witnessed were truly horrendous," she said.

"The dogs were forced to sit, sleep and live in their own faeces and urine. Only one cage actually had a bowl with water in it. I was horrified by what I was seeing."

She said there was no bedding for most of the dogs, and the runs were filthy, as were the animals.

"The lack of space, water, exercise, veterinary attention, environmental stimulation, hygiene and most of all care, that I saw was in every way, wrong."

Animal Liberation Victoria purchased three dogs in the worst health at the time in order to save them and took them for treatment at the Melbourne University Vet Clinic.

Founder Patty Mark said it was unacceptable that the RSPCA and council took six years to act.

"It's a very frustrating situation," Ms Mark said. "There is a lot of heat on the RSPCA because they failed to act over and over again."

Ms Healy declined to comment on the raids but a woman who answered Ms Healey's phone and identified herself as a friend said she was "most definitely" a proud breeder who had done a lot in the show dog community.

"She is beside herself at the moment," the friend said.

Dogs Victoria, the peak body for purebred owners and breeders, confirmed that Ms Healey was a member with registered dogs, but there had been no complaints against her.

"I just can't begin to tell you how appalled we are as an association that this is going on," CEO Lyndall Black said. "The vast majority of our judges and members care very much for their dogs."

She said Dogs Victoria was helping the RSPCA with the case.

"We rely really heavily on concerned people letting us know of these situations."

All of the seized and surrendered animals were taken to an RSPCA facility and were receiving veterinary care. They will be available for adoption in the future.

Some dogs, cats and birds remain at the properties but notices have been issued to improve the animal's health hygiene, husbandry and food/water provisions.

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Willem   

...it took 'only' 6 years for an appropriate response...that's just not good enough!...but it also raise questions about the attitude of the buyers of those puppies - with over 120 dogs, how many dogs / puppies would she have sold over a year?...and over the last 6 years?...and why have been so little complaints from the buyers?

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*kirty*   

Notice how they make sure to reference her as a show breeder, the dogs are show dogs, etc. This has been waiting to happen for so long and it is about bloody time that Dogs VIC got off their arses and did something about it. The animal rights groups will be having a field day. I know of several other large scale 'registered breeders' who have also been reported but are still members.

How can people choose a reputable breeder with scum like this in amongst the good breeders? Showed their dogs? Tick. Registered breeder? Tick. Advertises on DOL? Tick.

Dogs VIC and the other registries need to do way more to ensure they are only registering REPUTABLE breeders. If a breeder is registering 100's of puppies per year, alarm bells should be ringing. They should do regular random inspections to ensure premises are clean and suitable. And they need to grow some balls and kick out the members who are not towing the line.

They have sat on their hands for far too long and now all registered breeders are going to be tarred with the same brush. This person isn't being called a puppy farmer, they are being called a show breeder.

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Steve - one of your links is premium only.

...it took 'only' 6 years for an appropriate response...that's just not good enough!...but it also raise questions about the attitude of the buyers of those puppies - with over 120 dogs, how many dogs / puppies would she have sold over a year?...and over the last 6 years?...and why have been so little complaints from the buyers?

Because they're bathed and wormed and treated for fleas and shipped off to pet shops?

Because if they later develop a disease some people don't put two and two together? or they're returned to the petshop and treated/dealt with accordingly. (Pet's paradise used to have contracted vets who'd "fix" correct hernias in any pup they sold - free to owner - no question asked - the vets were contractually obliged to fix the hernia and not comment further on it)

Or because some people like my ("silly" - I can think of better words) friend will buy "the sick looking puppy" because she "felt sorry for it and couldn't leave (her) there"?

I'm sure there are plenty of other options - Take your pick :(

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How come this person was still registered, and a club secretary and running a kennel when there is public evidence (admittedly hard to findbut I am baffled that it wasn't acted on by the clubs at least) that they're basically a puppy mill?

How are you meant to tell good breeders from bad breeders when the bad breeders are Secretarys of clubs and winning shows? Are leaders of clubs not evaluated? Was no-one warning people off buying this person's dogs?

This is so incredibly frustrating. I would like to get a second dog in the next year or two, and I am considering some specific breeds, but it's like a minefield to navigate and find true responsible, honest and good breeders! Then there's stuff like this happens and it really damages my trust in the breed clubs that I am getting truthful information on breeders, pedigrees, the breeds.

:banghead::banghead: :banghead:

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Scratch   

It's hard to know exactly where the answer to all this lies. Ultimately I think the best place to start is enforcement of existing rules and regulations. On registry, council, and animal welfare aspects.

It frustrates the crap out of me that the state registries don't /can't uphold what is clearly stated in their rules and codes etc. But then imagine the money a breeder like this brings in for them, hmm, cynical?

It's a travesty that truly wonderful registered breeders should not have to bear.

It really is no wonder that Jo public just turn to gumtree or pet shop or designer dog place where all their friends /colleagues seem to be getting lovely pets from, no questions asked.

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This whole story makes me livid. This breeder was just fine about her breeding practices or she would not have let potential buyers on her premises. How many governing bodies does a person need to report to before something gets done? So many rules, regulations and codes of practise in place and no-one doing a damn thing to enforce them (happy to take money though). What is the point of Dogs Victoria and being able to claim you are a registered breeder if you can still do that to dogs? What is the point of council rangers if they don't inspect and fine for inappropriate facilities? What is the point of the words 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' in the RSPCA's title if they let that go on for 6 years? Did they not go back for follow up visits to ensure the ongoing safety of those animals? Many probably died from neglect over the past 6 years. I hope some people get their arses kicked for what they didn't do. Actually I hope they come back in their next life as a dog confined to a cot with only their own shit for company.

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Steve   

...it took 'only' 6 years for an appropriate response...that's just not good enough!...but it also raise questions about the attitude of the buyers of those puppies - with over 120 dogs, how many dogs / puppies would she have sold over a year?...and over the last 6 years?...and why have been so little complaints from the buyers?

The buyers wouldn't have a clue - they would be proud that they were able to obtain a puppy from such a well known show breeder and office bearer of the club and there is definitely no need what ever for her to sell to pet shops. I highly doubt that she goes anywhere near pet shops.

For a registered breeder to be able to find homes for around 250 Chi puppies a year is easily achieved without ever having anyone visit their property.

The complaint is about how she treats and keeps her dogs not the health and suitability of her puppies to be suitable pets when they get to where they are going.

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stellnme   

I'll bet Ms Healey is "beside herself at the moment". Of course she is - she got caught.

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about the only thing I could see was the "cramped cages". The majority of the dogs were fat. Those cages indoors all had what appeared to be clean newspaper, some of it a bit shredded but otherwise looked fresh.

Looked like faeces in the outdoor runs.

Having them piled in like that is reason enough to remove them from the premises but it didn't look filthy.

Every time I see this happen to a registered breeder I think back to what those poor Collie people went through and it casts doubt in my mind if it's real, partly real or a Debra Tranter special

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Scratch   

In my humble opinion to even come close to properly caring for and providing adequately enriched lives and exercise for somewhere around 120 dogs, you need an army of reliable family or volunteers, or paid staff.

Even in situations where commercial numbers are housed in clinical conditions, adequate enrichment and exercise is still a contentious issue for me.

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I'm with you Blink. I've only cared for breeders dogs while they've been on holidays and done a couple of overnights at a home based rescue set up. The most I cared for was 2 litters of different ages plus a couple of breeding bitches. Dogs had to be kept seperated but still moved, exercised and fed. They also needed some one on one time. Then the litters needed to be cleaned up after, fed, played with. It is a lot of work. How many seconds of attention a day could each dog get if you had 120 dogs? It is just not a sound breeding and raising environment for a companion animal.

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Steve   

about the only thing I could see was the "cramped cages". The majority of the dogs were fat. Those cages indoors all had what appeared to be clean newspaper, some of it a bit shredded but otherwise looked fresh.

Looked like faeces in the outdoor runs.

Having them piled in like that is reason enough to remove them from the premises but it didn't look filthy.

Every time I see this happen to a registered breeder I think back to what those poor Collie people went through and it casts doubt in my mind if it's real, partly real or a Debra Tranter special

I agree with this and Im not interested in considering what was published in 2010 because of where it came from and the fact that the RSPCA didnt do anything. There were also some stupid laws in Victoria in 2010 about where they had to be housed over night etc .

the original reports stinks of a AL.

However, the RSPCA have removed some of the dogs this time so its now more serious. Best to wait and see what if any thing the are charged with but also remember the breeder gets no right to an independent second vet opinion once they are removed.

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Steve   

In my humble opinion to even come close to properly caring for and providing adequately enriched lives and exercise for somewhere around 120 dogs, you need an army of reliable family or volunteers, or paid staff.

Even in situations where commercial numbers are housed in clinical conditions, adequate enrichment and exercise is still a contentious issue for me.

They are only toy breeds so not so difficult if its a full time job. Many Chi breeders have high numbers.

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I'm with you Blink. I've only cared for breeders dogs while they've been on holidays and done a couple of overnights at a home based rescue set up. The most I cared for was 2 litters of different ages plus a couple of breeding bitches. Dogs had to be kept seperated but still moved, exercised and fed. They also needed some one on one time. Then the litters needed to be cleaned up after, fed, played with. It is a lot of work. How many seconds of attention a day could each dog get if you had 120 dogs? It is just not a sound breeding and raising environment for a companion animal.

We've got 15-20 cats in the cattery at the moment & it takes me just on two hours to feed, sweep & mop, wash bedding, bowls & litter trays and have a quick talk to each cat - handle & check over. Do a poo patrol in the outside areas and pick at least one extra from the "extras" cleaning list (dust, vaccum scratching poles etc) + do all the other things I've forgotten or haven't bothered to mention (fold washing as just one example)

Admittedly I'm a slow worker - but cats also (as a huge generalisation) take a lot less work than dogs. So... if you do the worlds most basic math - 1 hour per 10 animals = 120 animals = 12 hours a day min work to (just) adequately care for these animals - this is not factoring in ANY exercise for these dogs. It is also assuming the phone doesn't ring & you have all supplies delivered to you...

Like others - I don't get how this was allowed to go on for 6 years... Shame on all who turned a blind eye.

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Not much good for the dog if they're supposedly "sound" of body but not of mind. Not that many of them seem in good health and the long haired ones where you need to factor in grooming. Those dogs are matted :cry: Have they ever been brushed in their life? 4 dead dogs on site?!

I don't understand how Dogs Vic or the Chi club were supposedly unaware of all this. This lady has been watched since 2010. I am also mad that it took years for the raid to happen in the first place and that the council she is registered with did nothing after all the complaints. How many times do all these clubs, councils and people need to fail these dogs? How many times does the RSPCA need to visit a breeder before Dogs Vic and Breed club's kick them off the list?

This is horrible for all these dogs and all those poor dogs who have come out of it with such a shitty start to life.

I hope soon those who can will be set up with new families who can give them the time and patience they need to undo all this person's damage to them. Better lives ahead for them i hope.

Here's a new article popping up,article link

RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker says one of the breeders was known to the animal welfare group for 16 years.

"We got a tip-off in 2010, we went in 2011 and at that point in time we had 33 animals surrendered to us," Dr Walker told 3AW on Thursday.

Legislation in place then meant charges couldn't be laid, but changes to the code of practice for breeding businesses in 2012 means the owner can now be prosecuted for animal cruelty, the RSPCA chief said.

"We are confident that we will have charges laid - absolutely."

Owners can be jailed for two years and fined almost $75,000 but the RSPCA is more realistically hoping for banning orders prohibiting domestic animal ownership.

Dr Walker on Thursday revealed the current investigation had been running since late 2015.

I hope this person gets all of the bolded. She deserves to be fined and doesn't deserve any future animals :mad

Waiting for the full extent of this animal cruelty and irresponsibility to come out, but it will just make me more mad.

Edited by Thistle the dog

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mita   

I so much agree that a case like this colours public perceptions about 'show dogs', purebreds, registered breeders, the whole box & dice. When the majority are decent ethical people ... I have only the greatest respect for the sheltie, poodle, tibbie & ACD breeders we've had dealings with, as pet owners, here in Qld. Their hearts would ache as much as anyone else's for the suffering of the little dogs.

I also know (not mounting a defence!) how hard it can be for the decent breeders to get something done about a rogue breeder in their midst.

There was a well publicized case here in Qld, few years back, where there was a rogue breeder in 'care' of large number of seriously neglected dogs of a certain breed. ) Many decent breeders of her breed tried to get something done about it. . (And these decent ones are on my list of the top people in breeding & rescue.) Their efforts were met with the rogue breeder bringing legal action against them for defamation & such like. Finally, the RSPCA could get enough evidence to satisfy a magistrate to go in & rescue well over 100 of the breed.

But it didn't stop there.... the rogue breeder acting for herself fought the RSPCA thro' the courts to get the dogs back. It dragged on & on .... and the fear was that some legal loophole would see them ordered back to her. And who put their hands up to foster & rehabilitate all those dogs? The many, many decent breeders from the breed club. They did a magnificent job. On the day the dogs were all presented now at their best ready for adoption, they looked a million dollars & were so happy. Finally, thank god, the court proceedings ground to an end & the dogs were able to be adopted to people who loved the breed.

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