Victorians urged to be on high alert for illegal pet businesses

Published on 29 December 2022

As the new year approaches many Victorians are preparing to bring a new pet into their lives and RSPCA Victoria is urging the public to be vigilant when purchasing a pet and to be aware that it is illegal to buy or sell animals in public places such as parks, roadsides, and car parks.

Illegal breeders or sellers often operate covertly, provide misleading information, and may request to meet in a public place to illegally complete the sale of an animal. RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate is currently actively investigating a number of these illegal businesses and regularly prosecutes offenders in the courts.

In early December, RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team executed multiple Domestic Animals Act warrants across two linked properties in Ballarat in relation to the alleged illegal sale of kittens from an unregistered domestic animal business. As a result, Inspectors seized six Burmese kittens due to non-compliance with the mandatory Code of Practice and RSPCA is currently investigating multiple suspects.

RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate Team Leader – Major Investigations, Lisa Calleja, said it is important to research before purchasing a pet.

“If you cannot find a suitable pet to adopt and instead choose to purchase, it is important to make sure you are purchasing from a registered breeder operating a legal breeding facility.

“A responsible breeder will answer all your questions, provide accurate information, and will allow you to visit the location where the animal lives to ensure the standard of care and living conditions are appropriate and that it has been bred for a temperament suited to being a pet. Many people unknowingly purchase animals from illegal businesses that sell animals from public places to hide the location of their operations.”

“The subjects of RSPCA Victoria investigations are often sophisticated networks that use covert methods, so our Inspectorate team relies on the public for information that may assist with investigations. Significant investigations and successful prosecutions do eventuate as a direct result of tip offs from the public, so we encourage anyone with information to make a report. All details, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are welcome and all tip offs are reviewed,” stated Ms Calleja.

RSPCA Victoria recommends people looking to become a dog or cat owner read the RSPCA Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide or the RSPCA Smart Kitten and Cat Buyers Guide, which provide useful guidelines and tips for finding a reputable breeder. These include:

·       visiting the place where the puppy or kitten was born.

·       meeting the mother dog or cat (and father if possible) and make sure they are happy and healthy.

·       and checking the breeder provides a high standard of care and living conditions for all their animals.

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 specifies that dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.

Penalties can apply for individuals or body corporates who sell dogs and cats from a public place. Individuals could face a maximum penalty in court of $5,547.60, while body corporates could face a maximum penalty of $27,438.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via www.rspcavic.org/services/tipoff or by calling 9224 2222.

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