The time will come in every child’s life (and for many adults too) when they desperately want a puppy. This is understandable given the obvious cuteness factor that can overwhelm all but the most cold hearted among us. Many an experienced parent will wag a finger and tell you that all puppies grow up into bigger dogs, and when the chores and bills mount up the novelty often disappears as quickly as the cuddly cuteness. With the holiday season upon us, and with puppies likely to be on many children’s Christmas lists, petpages decided to get some sound advice in this regard from the RSPCA - an organisation with an enviable reputation in animal advocacy worldwide…
Firstly, tell us what the RSPCA is all about?
“The RSPCA is a community based charity that works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.”
Where does your funding come from?
“The RSPCA is a charity that relies on the community for 97% of its national funding. Less than 3% of our funding is from governments.”
What legal obligations do pet owners have in Australia, in terms of caring for their pets humanely?
“Pet owners are accountable and liable for the ongoing care, actions and welfare of any animal under their care under the relevant state animal welfare legislation. Pet owners are required to provide their pet with all their basic needs including adequate food, water and shelter.”
Do you have figures for the number of pets that are abandoned during the holiday season?
“While Christmas is a peak period, the RSPCA receives animals all year around. Last year the RSPCA cared for over 159,000 lost, surrendered or abused animals.”
What do I need to know before I choose that cute puppy?
“A new puppy is a long-term commitment, so you need to be certain you are making the right decision. You need to consider a number of factors, including the suitability of the dog to your home, the cost and effort of caring for your dog and how the animal will interact with your family/children.”
How would I go about identifying a reputable breeder?
“A reputable breeder is going to have a high standard of care and living conditions for all their dogs, with a genuine concern for their welfare. This goes as far as producing breeds that are free from genetic disorders, and should be able to provide references as well as ongoing support to the new owners. A reputable breeder should also be concerned about what home his animal is going to, as well as matching the right breed to the right owner. Read the RSPCA Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide first. ”
What is a puppy farm?
“A puppy farm is dog breeding facility that puts profit before the welfare of the animals. Conditions are often very poor with little room for exercise or play, which has along term impact on the health and behaviour of the puppies. Puppy farmers sell to anyone – through pet shops, online, at markets or even from car boots.”
How do I make sure my new puppy isn’t from a puppy farm?
“Unless you are adopting from a reputable rescue organisation like the RSPCA, make sure you visit your puppy’s parents and place of birth. A good breeder will accommodate such visits and be happy to answer any questions.”
Is tail docking legal?
“No, routine tail docking of puppies is no longer legal in Australia.”
What about desexing?
“Desexing isn’t just about preventing unwanted litters; it can also make your dog healthier and happier. The RSPCA practises early age desexing from the age of eight weeks when the surgery is simple and recovery is rapid. If your puppy was not desexed prior to sale, they must be desexed before they are able to produce any unintended litters of puppies. There is absolutely no benefit in letting females have one litter before they are desexed.”
What advice would you give to those of us with pets, who are going away over Christmas?
“Plan ahead. If it’s not possible to take your pet away on holidays with you, you will need to make arrangements for the care of your pet while you’re away. There are a couple of options. For example:
- Book your pet into a boarding cattery or kennel. He will be safely confined and will have regular attention from the people caring for him. Your pet will require up to date vaccinations to stay at most catteries and kennels.
- Take your pet to stay with a family member or friend. It would be necessary to keep them confined, as he will not be familiar with the surrounding outdoor environment.
- Make sure your pet is registered and microchipped so if anything does happen while you’re away you have the best chance of having your pet safely returned to you.”
Tell us how people can get involved with you?
“The RSPCA relies on the generous support of individuals and organisations to carry out its vital work, so people can donate online, support our campaigns or work or volunteer for us. Visit the RSPCA
website for more information.”