A woman raking in over $180,000 a year breeding Australia’s most sought-after dog breeds in horrid conditions has been handed a suspended jail sentence after investigators uncovered her illegal operation.
The dogs were usually subjected to squalid living conditions and bred repeatedly solely for profit, without regard for the puppies’ health.
Animal welfare organisation RSPCA is now urging dog buyers to conduct thorough research before purchasing a dog following a surge in puppy farm prosecutions.
“The cases involved highly desirable breeds such as Maltese shih tzus, poodles, cavalier King Charles spaniels, labradoodles, and French bulldogs, all of which sell for thousands of dollars,” RSPCA WA CEO Ben Cave said.
The RSPCA WA “conservatively” estimated that the serial puppy farmer was making a minimum of $180,000 a year breeding the sick dogs and selling them at exorbitant prices.
The 51-year-old Bullsbrook woman faced 17 charges of animal cruelty in the Perth Magistrates Court and was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, along with $25,000 in fines and an 18-month Intensive Supervision Order.
She was also ordered to pay legal costs of $24,279 and care and treatment costs of $18,241.
Magistrate Janie Gibbs, while delivering the sentence, said that she hoped the puppy farmer understood the pain and suffering the animals endured under her car.
In a disturbing twist, it was the woman’s fourth conviction for animal cruelty, with the most recent occurring in 2014 when the RSPCA discovered 50 dogs on her property, some hidden in an underground bunker.
The recent trial, which took place in December, revealed the offender’s attempts to hide evidence of her crimes by moving dogs between three different houses in Bullsbrook.
Magistrate Gibbs stated that the woman displayed “callous disregard or at least wilful blindness” towards her offences.
The puppy farmer was eventually reported by a concerned member of the public who became suspicious when they were denied the opportunity to visit a dog they had found advertised on Gumtree.
Following the tip-off, RSPCA WA launched an investigation that led to the seizure of 32 dogs, including four adult males, 19 adult females, and nine puppies.
Most of the dogs appeared underweight, unkempt, or unwell.
They were found living in unhygienic, cramped, and untidy conditions, with many confined to small steel cages and plastic carriers.
Inspectors discovered four puppies squeezed into a tiny cardboard box without food or water.
The floors of the houses and various cages were covered in urine and faeces, with some dogs being held in cages designed for rabbits and guinea pigs.
Serious health issues were found in the dogs upon veterinary examination.
Five of the dogs were pregnant and gave birth to 22 puppies in the subsequent weeks though two of the dogs and their puppies did not survive.
Hannah Dreaver, the RSPCA WA executive manager of animal and enforcement operations, emphasised at the time of the sentencing that the offender went to great lengths to prioritise profits over animal welfare.
She was found to have used multiple locations to conceal her operations from authorities and potential buyers.
Ms Dreaver condemned the greed-driven actions, stating, “This woman was breeding large numbers of dogs with absolutely no concern for their welfare, health, or safety.”
In light of the distressing 2023 cases, Mr Cave urged prospective dog owners to consider adoption as their first option.
He highlighted the overwhelming number of dogs in various breeds, sizes, and ages currently awaiting homes in WA shelters and rescue groups, But warned those who opt to buy a puppy never to purchase one online or without seeing it and its mother in the environment where it was raised. He urged individuals to contact the RSPCA WA Cruelty Hotline if the seller refuses to comply or insists on meeting in a neutral location.
With just 11 inspectors covering the vast state, the RSPCA WA says it heavily relies on the public to report suspected offenders.
The organisation stressed that the health issues observed in the seized dogs ranged from heart disease to severe breathing difficulties, anxiety, skeletal problems, and skin allergies.
Originally published as ‘Callous disregard or at least wilful blindness’: Hideous truth behind woman’s $180k income
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