Desperate measures from puppy factories and their lobbyists

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PIAA can’t guarantee your puppy doesn’t come from here (Image via Oscars Law)

It's panic stations at pet stores and their associations, as the public outrage over cruel puppy factories increases all the time. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.

A couple of weeks ago, I published an article on how the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) had thrown one of their members under the bus and made them a scapegoat for the public backlash after the exposure of puppy factories recently.

Last week, I spoke to Rose Wilson, one of the owners of Mt Lawley Pets and Puppies after she had crawled out from beneath the wheel of the bus that the PIAA had thrown her under. Despite having had a week I’m sure she would have rather forgotten, she had some interesting things to say regarding PIAA and the way in which this matter has been handled.

At the time I spoke with Rose, PIAA had not long put up a public statement that said, in part, that Mt Lawley Pets and Puppies were no longer registered with PIAA as their membership has been cancelled.

Later that same day, I received a call from Rose asking me if I would please not publish anything from our conversation, even though it had been “on the record” at the time. Rose claimed the reason for this was that they had been in discussions with PIAA and if they ceased purchasing from the puppy factory in question, they may once again be PIAA endorsed. The next day, PIAA made yet another public statement on their Facebook page, once again confirming that Mt Lawley Pets and Puppies were no longer to be endorsed by PIAA or members of the Association, as well as stating that they could in no way stand by their own guarantee that none of their retailers sell animals from puppy farms — a guarantee that has now been removed from PIAA's website.

The information Rose asked me not to publish has since been made public via social media through her statements.

The events of these two days has left me wondering if PIAA were the first association in history to suffer from multiple personality disorder.

The real shopfront: The NSW puppy factory where Mt Lawley Pets and Puppies sourced stock (Image via Oscars Law)

Rose informed me that PIAA had, only months earlier, offered her the role of being the association’s Western Australian representative and spokesperson. While being honored, Rose knocked the role back to concentrate on running her own business. Now, the association who sought her services has dumped her like a bad habit and is making her the fall guy for and industry body that is clearly in crisis.

Rose however has now some new friends taking up the fight on her behalf. Pets Australia are keen to pick up the membership fees for the retailer now that PIAA has deserted them. However, it’s fair to say that the approach of Pets Australia has been less than admirable and is, in my view, indicative of both the morality and integrity of the organization.

Pets Australia are yet another industry lobby group that compete with PIAA for membership funds of retailers and those within the pet industry. Pets Australia is run by a woman by the name of Jo Sillince, who was formerly a President of PIAA, but was allegedly removed in a cloud of controversy and disgrace.

This week, Pets Australia released their newsletter, which made some pretty startling claims regarding the goings on at the Mt Lawley Pet Store.

Pets Australia’s newsletter expanded on earlier reports regarding allegations of the assault of an employee of the pet store. The allegations were made by Chris, who it turns out was none other than the owner Rose’s son, someone with whom I was corresponding via email. When, after several emails, he finally brought up the allegation, I asked him if he had any evidence: any photo’s of injuries, a copy of a police statement, or even an incident number? I never received a response and so I assumed his silence spoke in volumes as that was the story that was being desperately pushed out by the store.

Keen to pick up a new paying member, Pets Australia, in their newsletter, have gone even further as this section shows:

Heaps of fines and an assault charge laid on activists?

I thought that it may be worth actually checking this claim for myself with someone in authority and so I contacted WA Police.

The view of WA Police could not have been more contradictory, with a spokesperson for WA Police stating:

“No charges have been laid and WA Police do not fine people for this type of incident.”

So, this was, allegedly, an outright lie by Pets Australia.

Some may also be wondering about the "AAPDB Hero” mentioned by Pets Australia, who apparently emerged from the crowd to kindly enlighten the police in attendance about the law, just like Moses coming down from the mountain with the 10 commandments.

The arrogance to try to imply that some mysterious person appeared through the mist and explained the law to police who, in gratitude for this new-found wisdom, handed out fines like confetti and laid one assault charge — apparently on multiple activists (how does that work?)

So, who is this ghost who walks and who are the AAPDB?

Alas, like a fart in the breeze, our mysterious anti-hero has disappeared back to whatever hole he crawled out from.

And the AAPDB? They are the Australian Association Of Pet Dog Breeders. While that may sound reasonable and legitimate, it is worth noting that, despite the long name, there is one word missing and that would be “Registered”. The reason that word is missing from the title is because registered and reputable breeders have their own organization that looks after their interests.

The AAPDB are, in fact, an organization that represents puppy factories exclusively. An organisation that seeks to help what many describe as the often tax-dodging factory breeding enterprises that profit from industrial scale animal cruelty.

The AAPDB are headed up by puppy farm owner and operator Jodie Knox, who took over from founder Kate Schoeffel after she was forced to step down after her puppy farm and animal cruelty on her were exposed.

So why all this sudden desperation from these fringe pet organisations?

This week, evidence is being given to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into puppy factories by various stakeholders, and it is clear that organisations such as AAPDB, Pets Australia and PIAA are more than a touch worried. Indeed, PIAA is showing their desperation and "confidence" in new CEO Mark Fraser by hiring lobby firm Newgate. Newgate are an agency that represents several large property developers, so no doubt PIAA will be hoping that may have some pull with a Liberal government, given the close relationship seen between the Coalition and property developers via Independent Commission Against Corruption in recent times.

Representing themselves with just just facts and evidence will be the side of public interest and decency. This side will have various organisations in its corner, such as Dogs NSW, Voiceless, the RSPCA and of course Oscars’s Law.

It is primarily due to the efforts of Oscar’s Law that efforts are being made to address this issue in NSW, and it is these tireless efforts that have also largely led to changes to legislation and codes of practice in Victoria, that are in the process of being legislated or implemented.

The Labor Government in Victoria are making huge inroads in this fight against an inhumane industry, with Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford doing some truly remarkable work.

In NSW, the Baird Government now have an opportunity to show that the stand against animal cruelty is a bipartisan one and make similar changes to those in Victoria.

I hope it’s an opportunity Mike Baird seizes with both hands.

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

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