ALP, Animal Justice Party and Baird Govt stand up against animal cruelty

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The ALP, the Animal Justice Party and the Coalition Baird Government appear to be working together to stamp out the horrific conditions found in puppy factories across NSW. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.

THERE ARE SOME MATTERS that are of such a magnitude that they become crucially important if we are to try to claim we live in a civil and humane society.

These are matters where most would agree are essential for a united front from our politicians and, as such, we expect a bipartisan approach on these matters.

One such issue is animal cruelty.

Whether it be the willful mistreatment of an animal, or the callous neglect of animals left to suffer in appalling conditions, we live in a society that is rapidly changing its attitudes towards the mistreatment of animals. That attitude shift is altering the lifestyles and buying behavior of hundreds of thousands of people all over the country — and I’m not just talking about the vegetarians and vegans. Take a walk around your local Coles and see the free-range eggs, the RSPCA-approved chicken, hormone-free beef and all sorts of other relatively recent changes to products on our supermarket shelves.

The NSW Labor Party has blazed the trail for others to follow releasing what is arguably the most comprehensive animal welfare policy in the country during the last state election campaign. Labor's policy is certainly the most comprehensive of the leading political parties and, last week, that policy was tabled in parliament.

One of the issues that is covered in detail in Labor's policy is the deplorable practice of breeding dogs in what are known as "puppy factories" or "puppy farms". These are properties where female dogs are used as breeding machines and housed in conditions that make the isolation cell in an Iraqi prison seem like the honeymoon suite at the Hilton.

Freezing conditions, concrete floor, urine soaked bedding, water that borders on septic and living on scraps of rubbish masquerading as food. In addition, many of these animals endure these conditions whilst suffering with gaping wounds from fights, or beatings, or diseases left completely untreated.

The only thing scarcer than compassion in a puppy factory is the sight of a vet.

Recently in NSW, Fairfax have been running series of articles that detail some raids on puppy factories in the states north following the exhaustive work of advocate organization Oscar’s Law who have been at the forefront of the battle against puppy factories since 2010.

Oscar’s Law founder Debra Tranter however has been fighting the good fight on behalf of the dogs since 1993.

This series of articles has led the NSW Baird Government to announce a Parliamentary Inquiry into these abhorrent practices. An activity that tries to pass itself off as some sort of legitimate industry, despite that fact that most operators pay no taxes, while also collecting welfare.

Added into the mix in the NSW Upper House, we now have the first elected MP for the Animal Justice Party in Mark Pearson.

Pearson has a long history in animal welfare and is extremely well-respected in the industry, both inside and outside of NSW. Pearson is also in the fortunate position of being someone whom the Baird Government may need the support to ensure passage of their legislation.

Pearson is to oversee the inquiry after being appointed to the select committee by the NSW Government.

Chairing the inquiry is Nationals MP Adam Marshall. Marshall is the MP for the Northern Tablelands region and has taken an active interest in puppy factories, particularly given recently there have been several horrendous cases recently uncovered in his electorate.

With the NSW Government working together with the Animal Justice Party and hopefully putting politics aside to work alongside the Labor Party it is hopeful that positive legislation can be put forward at the inquiries end. Legislation that will hopefully see an end to this cruel and brutal practice in NSW at long last. Legislation that can also allow consumers to be certain that their purchase of a beloved pet has come from a reputable and humane source.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, where Labor are currently working on legislation, one local council gave the public a particularly distressing example of why change is so desperately needed.

In Wyndham Magistrates Court on Monday, repeat offending puppy factory owner Anthony Sammut was once again before the magistrate with members of his family there to support both him and his behavior.

Sammut was handed down a fine of $5,000 after pleading guilty to operating an unregistered puppy farm.

Protestors at the court were devastated at the outcome, particularly given advocate organization Oscar’s Law had spent nearly double that amount on vet bills treating dogs with hideous injuries that had required rescuing from the crime scene/puppy factory.

Following the court matter, which had been delayed by Wyndham Council's lawyer rocking up approximately an hour late and after Sammut had fled the court with the aid of police protection, concerned members of the public – many of them local ratepayers – walked in procession to the Council chambers to seek comment and reassurance from Wyndham Council CEO Kerry Thompson.

Their walk however, was in vain, with nobody from Council prepared to make comment or front up to address the public.

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and a former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow him on Twitter @madwixxy.

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