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Canberra pet shops face licensing fees as owner calls for focus on online sales

Updated 25 minutes ago


Alexis Kilby-Luhrs says her pet shop is doing everything right when it comes to animal welfare and stamping out puppy farms.

Key points:

  • Animal welfare law changes would see a licensing scheme introduced for pet shops
  • Pet shop owner says government should instead focus on online sales of pets
  • RSPCA says Canberra pet shops not involved in puppy farming


Belco Pets has worked with animal rescue groups to help find homes for hundreds of dogs and cats, and has not stocked puppies from breeders for many years.

But Ms Kilby-Luhrs could still soon be forced to apply for a licence designed to stop puppy farming — something she says has not been an issue in Canberra pet shops for some time.

"I don't understand the laws and legislation that they're trying to bring in for pet shops because I can't even name one that actually sells puppies and kittens anymore," she said.

"I think a lot of the pet shops are working towards adoption.

"It's not going to stop puppy farms in any shape or form, we've still got puppies being sold on Gumtree, kittens being sold on Gumtree."


Ms Kilby-Luhrs said improperly bred pets were often offloaded online, and that the Government would be better off focusing its efforts there.

She suggested microchipping all puppies bred in the ACT so, if a dog ended up abandoned, its breeder could be held accountable.

Asked why the Government was targeting pet shops with licence fees, Minister for City Services Chris Steel said the move was about ensuring high animal welfare standards.

"These new laws propose to establish a licensing scheme for the first time in the ACT that will enable the Government to have greater powers to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare apply in the ACT", he said.

Larger pet stores 'not a problem': RSPCA


RSPCA ACT chief executive Michelle Robertson said Canberra pet shops had rightly distanced themselves from puppy farms.

"We're very fortunate in the ACT that puppy farming isn't a particularly huge issue," she said.

"The well-known larger pet stores and pet supply stores, we don't see as a problem."

But Ms Robertson said she was supportive of the ACT Government's animal welfare crackdown as a way to deter would-be illegal breeders.

"If we have a very soft regulatory framework, then [puppy farms] could very much become an issue because there'd be nothing to stop people coming from other jurisdictions," she said.

Last year, a Goulburn woman was convicted for animal cruelty after an RSPCA NSW raid turned up 98 dogs in poor physical health.

Most were popular breeds, such as dachshunds, French bulldogs, cocker spaniels, beagles and pugs. They were all surrendered to rescue organisations who set about finding them homes.


Ms Robertson urged pet owners to properly educate themselves about where their puppies are really coming from.

"Educate yourself about the seller," she said.

"Anything online is so difficult to ensure that you actually obtain that animal in an ethical, humane, animal-friendly way."

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