Think and choose well when puppy love strikes


Baby Barney … who could resist? Photo: Rachel FreemanOpinion


Since adopting the most delightful bundle of joy – Barney the Golden Retriever – in 2010, I understand the meaning behind the push for adopting and shopping responsibly and ethically for our furry little friends.

Sure, I was only 12 when we welcomed the pitter-patter of puppy paws up and along the front veranda. They and their partner in crime – his jaws — often wreaked havoc in the garden beds, pulled “delicates” off the washing line and tore up cushions on the day bed.  But as I’ve grown, and Barney’s matured – slightly – one thing has become abundantly clear” they may only be part of our lives for a fraction of time, but we are their whole life.

According to the RSPCA, in the 2017-2018 financial year a staggering 132,657 animals were taken into their care nationwide. The number is so big, it is almost unbelievable.

The Victorian State Government has cracked down on dodgy dog breeders, with some even taken to court. The state’s goal is to abolish puppy farms by 2020 and enforce restrictions on sales of pedigree puppies through hobby breeders. It wants to bar pet shops from puppy sales completely.

The response from the people of Victoria has been far a cry from bitterness, with a reported 527 businesses actively backing the new welfare laws.

Queensland is slowly pulling back the reins on puppy farms, and is implementing stricter standards. Hopefully greater measures will be taken soon to ensure ethical means of adopting a pup here. After all, don’t we want our furry friends to have the best quality of life?

Fortunately, our Barney was not abandoned, mistreated or bred under mal-practice. Instead, a young man bought him as a gift for his partner, and when they separated Barney was caught in the crossfire.  So, through a local vet, he was given to a family who had been on a waiting list for a rescue dog for quite some time: mine.

And from then on, he has been given the puppy lovin’ he deserved at his fur-ever home.

A happy chap on the steps of his home. Credit: Madeleine Dowling

While shopping for a dog from a trusted breeder is far from a sin, here are a couple ‘tell-tail’ signs that a breeder is wagging towards ‘dodgy’. According to the RSPCA,buyers should beware if they can’t go to the breeder and have an open viewing, or if the arrangement is internet based and you can’t get to the bottom of where they are.

Prospective owners should ensure they are ready for the commitment and care a paw pal needs by doing the Pet Licence Test. The prospective buyer can quiz themselves on the ins-and-outs of pet ownership, and it offers a percentage of competency at the end.

And they would want to be competent: adopting a dog is a commitment spanning 10-15 years (that’s around 110 dog years), so the decision should not be taken lightly or on the whim.

Let’s adopt and shop both responsibly and ethically. Barney and his furry kin deserve love and happiness just as much as their humans do.

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