2023 Policy Initiative - Pets not products

Protecting companion animals from profiteering - Companion animals are cherished members of many families and households, bringing so much joy to those of us lucky enough to share our lives with them. 

 

But because of a small minority of people willing to trade on the love we have for our companion animals, and because governments do not prioritise animal welfare in funding or policy-making, countless numbers of dogs, cats and other companion animals are suffering across our state. 

Consecutive governments have put tackling puppy farming in the too hard basket and refused to commit to fixing the broken pound and shelter system, failing vulnerable animals as a result. 

The Greens will shut down puppy farming in this state once and for all by tightening breeding laws and closing dodgy sales pathways. We will also address the crisis in council pounds and shelters with mandatory subsidised desexing, urgent capital works upgrades to improve welfare and quality of life, a phase-out of euthanasia for non-compassionate reasons and a ban on euthanasia by any method other than intravenous injection. 

THE GREENS WILL: 

  • Shut down puppy farms
  • Reform our broken pound and shelter system
  • Ban pet shops selling non-rescue animals
  • Mandate and subsidise desexing 
  • Allow pets on public transport
  • Crack down on pet food production 

SHUTTING DOWN PUPPY FARMS AND KITTEN MILLS

Dogs and cats are wonderful companions, not commodities to be treated like breeding machines for profit.

Puppy and kitten farms flourish because they operate in the dark, with lax regulation on breeding and poor planning laws providing protection to even the most notorious intensive breeding facilities. 

NSW is falling behind the rest of the country in regulating and preventing animal cruelty, and with neighbouring states tightening laws and their puppy and kitten farms moving across the border to NSW, it’s more important than ever for legislative change here.

The Greens are committed to protecting companion animals from exploitation by the callous commercial pet breeding industry. 

We will shut down puppy and kitten farms by:

  • Mandating breeder registration and introducing regular compliance requirements. 
  • Raising welfare standards in the breeding Code of Practice and making them enforceable.
  • Capping animal numbers, with limits on fertile female animals per breeder, total animals on a single property and total litters whelped per female animal.
  • Restricting breeding of brachycephalic (short snouted) breeds.
  • Banning surgical artificial insemination.
  • Giving power back to councils and local residents to oppose intensive commercial breeding facilities in their community.
  • Establishing prior animal cruelty charges as grounds for breeding facility development application refusal.
  • Resourcing RSPCA and Animal Welfare League inspectorate programs.

REFORMING OUR BROKEN POUND AND SHELTER SYSTEM

Council-run pounds and shelters provide an essential public service, but because they are under-resourced and under-regulated many council pounds are run down, don’t meet basic welfare standards, and do not allow public access for adoption at all. 

The devastating outcome is the avoidable death of far too many companion animals, with 1 in 12 dogs and 1 in 3 cats that enter council pounds being killed for reasons other than illness or injury. Fixing our pounds and shelters will require a holistic intervention.

The Greens will:

  • Phase in no-kill laws to prevent the killing of healthy impounded companion animals, while still allowing euthanasia on compassionate grounds.
  • Immediately ban euthanasia by any method other than intravenous injection.
  • Overhaul welfare standards, including by introducing a dedicated Code of Practice to replace the NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 5 - Dogs and cats in animal boarding establishments, developed in consultation with animal welfare experts, community-run rescues and local councils.
  • Support local councils to comply with welfare standards by developing best-practice guidelines and strategies to complement the new Code of Practice and providing funding to enable the implementation of improved standards and, where necessary, for ongoing compliance. 
  • Enforce welfare standards with regular facility auditing and the introduction of a single contact point for all pound and shelter welfare complaints or concerns. 
  • Urgently fund capital works upgrades to ensure all NSW pounds and shelters protect animals from extreme temperatures and allow appropriate, varied and enriching exercise and play.
  • Enable impounding of farmed animal species and companion animals other than dogs and cats in more pounds and shelters with targeted facility expansions.
  • Resource RSPCA, Animal Welfare League and community-run rescues.

ENDING THE PUPPY FARM TO PET SHOP PIPELINE

Live animal sales in pet shops are currently largely unregulated, and animals trapped in intensive breeding facilities are suffering as a result.

Using pet shops, breeders are able to sell animals without allowing otherwise well-meaning companion animal guardians to see the horrific conditions in which their beloved pets started their lives and that the animal’s parents likely remain trapped.

Meanwhile, council and community-run animal shelters are struggling to find loving homes for the many lost, abandoned and abused animals that deserve one. 

The Greens will ban pet shops from selling companion animals except in partnership with animal shelters and rescues, ending the puppy farm to pet shop pipeline and ensuring the animals most in need are rehomed. 

MANDATORY AND SUBSIDISED DESEXING AND VACCINATION

Desexed dogs and cats are generally happier, healthier, and easier to care for as they do not exhibit the behaviours and health complications that arise from being sexually mature or going into heat. 

The Greens will make desexing at the point of sale or adoption mandatory for everyone except registered breeders, and vaccination mandatory for everyone. We will also establish a desexing education program and work with local councils and existing desexing programs to provide targeted subsidised desexing for people whose dog or cat is not yet desexed. 

Not only will this result in healthier companion animals, it will also curb backyard breeding, accidental litters and stray cat populations, reducing the burden on pounds and shelters. 

WELCOMING PETS ONTO PUBLIC TRANSPORT

More Australians share their lives with companion animals than almost anywhere else in the world, but with pets not allowed on most public transport many of us can’t reliably or affordably get where we need to go while including our companion animals in our lives. 

Whether it’s taking your dog to a great park further than is a comfortable walk, or including your cat in your weekend away, being able to get where you and your pet want to go is important. 

It’s not just a matter of recreation though — people without a car are more likely to be prevented from taking their companion animal to the vet. No animal should have to go without medical care, no matter their guardian’s finances or transit options. 

Currently in NSW there is a blanket ban on companion animals on trains and metro services, and companion animals are only able to travel on buses, ferries, light rail and taxis if confined to a carrier or container and with driver or crew permission. In practice it can be difficult to know whether a particular service will allow companion animals, and larger dogs are entirely excluded from public transport. While there are exemptions for assistance animals, this does not include therapy and emotional support animals.

By contrast, in Victoria, the ACT, and all of Europe companion animals riding on public transport is commonplace. 

The Greens will welcome pets onto public transport in NSW with the following restrictions: 

  • All companion animals must be either contained to a carrier or on a lead and muzzled.
  • Companion animals will be welcome on public transport outside of peak travel times. 
  • On trains, companion animals will be welcome in the first and last non-quiet carriage. 
  • Drivers, staff and crew will be able to ask passengers to remove their companion animal if it is causing a disturbance or poses a safety risk.

CRACKING DOWN ON PET FOOD PRODUCTION

We all want to ensure our companion animals are eating the most nutritious food possible, but with little regulation of pet food production there is no way to know definitively if food is healthy, let alone ethically produced. 

Whether it’s ex-racehorses slaughtered in knackeries, sulphite preservatives that cause dangerous neurological conditions, or indospicine poisoning from contaminated and mislabelled meat, it’s clear that poor regulation of pet food production can have serious and even deadly consequences. 

The Senate Inquiry into regulatory approaches to ensure the safety of pet food spelled this out clearly, with everyone from vets to consumer advocates and even the pet food industry calling for better regulation, but we still haven’t seen meaningful action at a state or federal level. 

With 70% of households sharing their lives with a companion animal and pet food a $4 billion industry in Australia, there’s just no excuse to leave pet food unregulated. 

The Greens will regulate pet food production by introducing: 

  • Minimum ingredient standards and pet food production standards, including a ban on the sourcing of meat from unhealthy animals and a requirement to disclose where meat is sourced from.
  • Transparent labelling laws requiring the listing of all ingredients, additives and preservatives on product packaging, and publishing of information on nutritional content and purpose of additives.
  • A requirement for routine sample testing and production facility auditing.
  • The power to legally enforce product recalls.
  • Mandatory compliance with the voluntary national industry standard AS5812 – Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food.

HOW THE GREENS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR ANIMALS

In the last parliament, it was the Greens who:

Led the way in overhauling the legislative framework of animal welfare in NSW, by introducing two Bills to:

  • Establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare
  • Legally recognise animal sentience and establish a responsibility to provide animals with opportunities to experience comfort, interest and pleasure

Held the government to account on greyhound racing, by:

  • Introducing a Bill to require greyhounds to be tracked from birth to death
  • Interrogating the industry in the Parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of greyhound racing

Stood up for koalas by introducing two Bills to: 

  • Establish the Great Koala Protected Area 
  • End logging of koala habitat 

Participated in Parliamentary inquiries into:

  • Battery cages for hens
  • Koala populations and habitat
  • Enforcement of animal cruelty laws
  • Kangaroo health and wellbeing
  • Puppy farming
  • Animal welfare policy
  • Use of animals in medical testing

References:

FIND ALL OUR POLICIES:  GREENS.ORG.AU/NSW/PLATFORM

Join 50,429 other supporters in taking action