AWL NSW branch statement supports Kellyville Pets

April 4, 2018

Image: The Illawarra Mercury

Still visible on their page is a statement from Animal Welfare League NSW - Western Suburbs Branch by an ex-board member.

While she emphasises that these are her "personal" opinions and not the views of the branch, they give a potential insight into the kinds of discussions going on behind the scenes at the AWL NSW. Also, since they were put out on AWLNSW channels, I feel its appropriate to dissect these in a public forum, as they literally invited the debate.

The notice starts by reminding people that there is an general election coming up for the AWL NSW and noting that an email had been sent to members. Then point #1 is that the author resigned from the board for personal reasons and point #2 is that the Ingleside shelter was not closed to be sold, but for plumbing issues.

And then point #3 is this;

Misleading statements? Calling a facility which literally farms dogs to produce puppies, a 'puppy farm' is not a misleading statement. Certainly, it could be argued it is an unflattering statement, what with the emotional baggage associated with the words 'puppy farm'.

If someone runs a property who harvests corn, they're a corn farmer. It is not misleading to call them a corn farmer, even if their preferred term is 'cereal propagation cooperative'.

If someone primarily breeds (and sells the offspring of) lets say, sheep = sheep farmer. Cows = cow farmer. Rabbits = rabbit farmer. Dogs = puppy farmer.

You're farming stupid, to suggest otherwise.

It is not illegal to breed dogs. And it's not illegal to do a bunch of other things to animals, I wouldn't want my chosen "animal welfare" charity endorsing. 'Illegality' seems like a horribly low benchmark for animal welfare leadership strategy.

BYB staffies are certainly a huge problem, but luckily enough we can care about more than one issue at a time. Just because there seems to be evidence that designer breeds are less likely to be left languishing in the pound, this should hardly be extrapolated to professional, for-profit, large-scale puppy farming being the right answer. There is an extremely valid debate as to whether we should want to open the flood-gates to legal, welfare-charity endorsed corporations, in massive factory facilities, farming thousands of dogs a year, for tens of millions of dollars in profit. Is that really the future we want for our pets?

No, you can't dictate, but you can educate. You can work on programs and campaigns which build up the reputation of staffy and cross-breed dogs and encourage people to consider them as great family pets. What you don't do - if your job is quite directly to advocate for these most vulnerable dogs - is wave the white flag and start championing the for-profit bred oodle-doodle as a solution.

I mean honestly. Can you imagine any other charity sector coming out and saying, "this job is simply beyond us; we give up. We're gonna let the bad guys win this time." And then still expecting to be able to put their hands out for resources and community support? They'd be quite reasonably laughed out of their supporter's wills. What are we even paying you for?

This is kind of like asking whether you'd like to be beaten or stabbed to death - is neither an answer we can put back on the table?

How about reminding people that you have great pets in your shelter, that should always be the first choice for people looking for a pet? Remember your purpose.

But, should that really not be an option, that meeting the parents of you new puppy before you buy them is important, as well as visiting the premises selling the animals. Encouraging owner to work to find out the history of the pets they're buying; not simply acting like a puppy is a widget that can be mass-produced and pushed out via retail stores with no more effort required than unsheathing your AMEX.

"Lets bring the breeding of dogs out from backyards and puppy farms and into facilities like what Kellyville pets are creating."

I can't actually believe I've just read this. An enthusiastic review by an animal welfare charity, of a for-profit model of bulk-breeding dogs, shipping them to retail stores to be sold to consumers. It's like the freaking twilight zone up in here.

Q. What obligation do animal advocates who want to see commercial-breeding of dogs for profit ended, have to give air-time to those people who want to commercially breed dogs for profit?

A. Are you asking me seriously, or just having a laugh?

It is absolutely appropriate to picket a store selling puppies for profit rather than enter their store and ask to be given their PR pitch. That you deride such a picket, rather than thank the organisers, shows how utterly and hopelessly lacking in integrity the AWL NSW organisation seems to have become.

Would One though? I'd have thought it was pretty fucking obvious that most people that didn't show up to talk to John, didn't want to talk to John. They don't want to hear from him because his position is so absolutely abhorrent to them - his business model so dispicable - that they chose not to give him face-time. I get it.

(Was there really a meeting with Kellyville Pets, the RSPCA, Dogs NSW and AWL NSW? Did this actually happen? Does anyone know?)

Charities are publicly funded organisations. It's not enough to say "if you don't like us, go start your own charity." You are answerable to the community and their concerns.

Sure, it sucks when your decisions (like aligning with a puppy farmer) see you scolded and condemned, but that is the nature of running a charity. Especially a major one. If you don't like what your community is doing, then leave, go and work in a different industry where you aren't given millions of dollars of the community's money in return for oversight and input.

And it is incredibly sad that this post was not only written, but sent out on official channels. Because it puts at risk a lot of the work done over the decades, where we educated the community not to buy pets in impulse from for retail stores, told them to be skeptical and cautious of people selling pets for profit and encouraged them to always choose adoption as the first option.

If these are no longer the aims of the Animal Welfare League NSW, they need to come clean about it, so supporters are able to review their backing of the organisation.

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