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Puppy farm suspected next door - Can anything be done?

We have what appears to be a puppy farm next door. There are at least 4 cages in their yard with several dogs per cage. Each cage is about 3x4 meters. There are more dogs inside the house. We have no idea how many.

The animals are not being treated respectfully. The owner has never walked them and does not appear to care for their welfare.

I have complained to the RSPCA several times but they don’t seem to have any power to stop this practice. I’ve also approached our local council but they want to treat this as a domestic dog issue. I’ve tried pointing out that these are not domestic animals but I haven’t got anywhere. Currently, I am keeping a diary of the noise and plan to submit a noise complaint soon.

Ideally, I would like to see this operation closed. It’s just not right.

I’m trying to find out if this practice is legal in the context of zoning laws. Given it is in a residential area, wouldn’t there be some kind of restriction? I can see there are no relevant DA applications. Where do I look? What are the laws?

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So we’re talking around 12 dogs that you could potentially get photographic evidence of fairly easily?

Councils often set limits on the number of animals that can be kept. Sometimes this is an arbitrary limit, sometimes set by property size, type or specific location.

Here’s an example in Dandenong, Victoria - http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/1532/number-of-animals

I’d have thought they would still act on a ‘domestic dog issue’. It’s also a potential public health issue - how are they disposing of the waste? is there run-off? are you in a rainy area? smell? and you mentioned noise.

Choice has an article on puppy farms:

Victoria introduced some puppy farm laws late in 2017 - unsure about other states - your location will determine how much the law supports your concerns. Other places I’d be thinking of trying are breeding associations and as a last resort animal rights groups, at least for some specific advice. RSPCA on social media might get some more traction, however I’d be cautious about advertising my actions too much in the public as it were …

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It seems a dogs breakfast. Some of these items might be interesting. Your answer depends on what state you live.

In NSW there is a breeders’ lobby. http://www.dogsnsw.org.au/members/noticeboard/1285-22-000-dog-lovers-reject-proposed-new-anti-puppy-farm-laws.html

A government ago, but.

I trust those links may be useful.

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Councils can have restrictions on the number of pets (inc. dogs) living on a residential sized block. Usually the bigger the size, the more animal and the type of animals one can have. Check to see if you Council’s planning scheme or local laws have such restrictions.

Likewise with DAs. In a particular ‘zone’ there are usually lawful uses and uses which require approval of Council. Some may allow dog breeding in a residential area, providing that the breeding area meets particular requirements. This is usually outlined in the planning scheme for the local government area.

From what I understand, the RSPCA does have the powers under most State legislation to protect the interests of animals. But, there would need to be demonstrated cruelty to the animals. What is cruel is not subjective (one thinking that it may be cruel for example to keep dogs in cages when it may be seen as an acceptable or standard industry practice) and should be defined in the relevant state legislation. It is also noted that the RSPCA and local government keep unwanted or fugitive animals in cages to protect them from each other…until hopefully the animal is rehoused. Maybe the RSPCA has investigated and their own investigations indicate that it is not cruel?

There are thousands of dogs which are treated by their owners the same every day. We have neighbours and friends which could be considered this. While we don’t support their actions, their dogs are healthy and generally loved.

You would need evidence that cruelty is occurring…otherwise your complaint may be seen as frivolous as may others within the community treat their dogs in similar ways.

Remember, just because you think it is not right, might not mean that it isn’t okay and there is nothing much you can do.

Have you tried contacting your local council planning department to ask the question of a small scale dog breeding business (do not use puppy farm when making contact as this is emotive) needs development approval and if it does, what are the requirements in a residential area? This will provide you with some background to the legitimacy of your neighbours activities.

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As you have said, zoning issues are a Local Council issue. Your Council may put their rules and regs on the numbers or pets/animals and associated land size requirements up on the internet. If not, you will have to contact the Council to make your enquiries.

The other questions is whether it is a commercial enterprise. Local Councils have requirements on businesses carried out from a home, such as hours of operation, number of parking spaces, removal of waste, etc. Again you have to find out what, if any, requirements there are in your neighbourhood.

You said the dogs are in 3x4m cages, but you didn’t say what the construction was. If the cages have concrete floor, they may need to get a DA. If not, they would not be viewed as permanent structures, and I’d be very surprised if a DA would be relevant or required.

If they do have concrete floors you would need to find out if a DA was required, and if all the requirements of the DA process were complied with. If not, you may have a grounds for appeal.

I’m not sure how you went about reporting your concerns to the RSPCA. Have a look at
https://www.rspca.org.au/report-cruelty
on how to report and the five steps that will occur. Please note at Point 5 it states that ‘all reports will be actioned’. So perhaps you just need to try again using the information provided there for reporting.

The other possibility is that perhaps the RSPCA has already investigated, and determined that there is no issue with how the animals are being dealt with.

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While the below may not satisfy your questions/requirements they hopefully may add some other ideas about how to get the issues fixed.

Remember that your next door neighbours may be registered breeders and may thus have a licence from the Council to house more than the usual allowed number of dogs at a premises. Depending on when they commenced they could have held a licence long before they were residentially surrounded, but you would be best placed to answer this for yourself. It doesn’t make the situation acceptable but it may mean they also have certain rights. Ask your Council to send you a copy of their by-laws regarding pets/animals, this should detail numbers allowed, noise limits and similar features such as registration requirements. If the dogs aren’t registered this may also be another angle to attack the problem from.

Your noise complaint is also a good idea as the Council have a duty to provide you with peaceful enjoyment of your property. Take a decently long recording of the noise and if it continues through the night also try to record this as night limits on noise are much stricter than daytime rules. But if unsuccessful with them use your State/Territory Government bodies/departments that are responsible for Local Government and Environmental protection/health standards. You can also contact your State/Territory’s Canine Association about puppy farm breeders and how they might assist you. To find your State/Territory body use the Australian National Kennel Council (http://ankc.org.au/) to find contact details.

Have you thought about getting other residents to combine with to lodge a community complaint and to make an approach to your council and the RSPCA? This may make them both more eager to investigate and deal with the problems. Have you approached your local Councillor and your State/Territory Member? If not it might pay a dividend to do so, State/Territory Government do oversee the Local Governments as they are all created and controlled by State/Territory legislation.

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@roony, what state are you in please?

In addition to all the comments re each state and in general, the first pdf I linked has some references as footnotes that might help.

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Hi BBG, I’m in NSW :slight_smile:

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Thanks for all the advice.

These cages are temporary structures. I’d be surprised if they needed a DA approval. While it is true that dogs can be legally kept in cages, my understanding is that they need to be exercised daily. These dogs rarely leave their cages.

There is a fair amount of noise (even right now) and on occasion this has continued until after midnight. Even our neighbours on the other side have noted how these dogs start barking at the slightest sound. I only need to put a cup in the kitchen sink or turn on a tap and they will react. We’d like the be able to enjoy our yard and back deck without dogs barking at us.

These cages were only assembled after we bought the house. This has been a residential area for many years before the house next door was built.

I’ve got enough evidence to proceed with a noise complaint. This is what I will do next. I have photos, videos and a diary. I’ll also talk to other neighbours and ask them to help.

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Hi @roony,

Sorry to hear about this, it can be pretty distressing to witness. In my personal experience, the type of people that do this type of thing are also not the ones you would want as neighbours. A note that if you see any of the dogs tethered, there are laws around this that you may be able to use to get the situation addressed.

RSPCA is known to be ‘hit and miss’ with their approach to this type of thing. There’s a couple of things you can try, like going to RSPCA Australia rather than RSPCA NSW. You can also try Oscar’s Law or other animal groups in your area. This isn’t a political comment, but I’ve seen that the Greens have taken on this issue in NSW so you could speak to your local member and see if they can help with the council situation.

All this said, if you don’t have any luck with the council, one of your best options is probably going to be to share the story with local media (especially since you have the evidence). This can be a bit uncomfortable - you’ll ideally want to do your best to protect your identity if this is the case. If they are selling the dogs directly and people know the conditions, they will often loose their customers. However, a lot of the time, I understand they are using other outlets to sell the dogs, so if you can find out the end point (a local pet store for example), it can help bring about the type of pressure needed to force some change.

Good luck with it, feel free to keep us updated.

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Perhaps contact your local state MP
Sad that the RSPCA aren’t helpful: (

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Unfortunately the RSPCA let us down too n a dog being in this case beaten and thrown around the yard by young bloke and his wife also seen kicking the dog in the face one time and then encouraging her child to do same. Inspector came out and looked over our fence - easy as we are higher looking down - and said nothing he could do.
Got onto local Liberal State MP and he came out and sat having a coffee for an hour and witnessed similar and they got moved out.
It was public housing and later found they had already been moved before, on drugs and likely housed again. Dog was found dead under the house. by new tenant. Whom lucky for us was a good neighbor. I cant stand cruelty to animals or children of any kind and wish we had better Laws to cover this. .

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Is it necessary to have a licence to be able to breed dogs and trade them? Also, where is the outlet for their sales? Is it through the internet eg eBay with a dodgy name and telephone number that doesn’t state a registered address? These issues need to be resolved to help ensure further action.

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At last I seem to be getting somewhere! Previously, when I asked the council, they were reluctant to listen and generally discouraging. But when I got a diary of event and a few colour photos, they realised that this was more than a barking dog dispute. See photo below

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Good on you for keeping on the Council’s back. They do need to step up to address the issue as do the RSPCA. I hope they take the proper and needed action sooner rather than later.

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We bought one of our dogs from a woman who claimed to be a breeder but had no idea about basic paperwork (pedigree etc.). A day or two after we got the new dog home, we found that she was terrified of all human males! (This wasn’t entirely surprising, given that the ‘breeder’s’ husband had been sitting watching us and saying how he hated the dog we were proposing to buy.) We had brought our other dog along to make sure they were okay together, and both ‘breeder’ and husband were surprised that I sat in the back seat with them when we left, to keep them both calm.

We strongly suspect that the poor girl had been doped up before our visit. It took a couple of years of patience before she would come near me on her own. Fortunately she is now mostly okay - but still has her moments.

Unfortunately, the only thing we could really do was tell our vet - who had tipped us off to the sale of this dog in the first place - and he is presumably keeping a close eye on the dogs she brings to him.

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Hi, have you tried ringing the Animal Welfare, I have heard from different people that the AWL look into that sort of neglect. I have not been involved in anything like that but it maybe a possible way out for those poor dogs. Give them a ring and report it to them and see what they say. A try is better than nothing, I would give it ago, there is nothing to loss and everything to gain, Good Luck and you are great for even been concerned a lot of people would just turn a blind eye, God Bless You. Regards Carrol.

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