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Cruel reality of puppy farming

Puppies on a puppy farm

It has become common for Australians to buy animals online via classified ads sites, especially those breeds who are considered ‘designer’ and therefore attract a high dollar value. This demand has given rise to unscrupulous animal breeders, also known as ‘puppy farmers’, who abuse animals as breeding machines with a focus on producing a high number of litters every year.

Urgent changes are needed to help protect the welfare of thousands of animals in Australia! Help FOUR PAWS urge classified ad sites to end the anonymous selling of animals. 

Puppy farming animal welfare issues

Puppy and kitten farms are commercial breeding facilities where the parent animals are kept, generally in very poor conditions, to be bred repeatedly for their young. Animals kept in intensive breeding facilities may be subject to a host of welfare concerns, including overcrowding, ongoing confinement, over breeding, early infant-mother separation, health complications, a lack of veterinary care and unhygienic housing conditions.


In these factories, animals may be deprived of a natural life with their emotional, social and physical needs disregarded. The ‘mothers’ often suffer horrific physical injuries as a result of constant pregnancies and birthing, while the ‘fathers’ are usually kept alone and suffer neglect.

The puppies are generally taken away from their mothers before the end of their nursing period and kept in horrible living conditions, such as small wire cages, and are at risk of being infected with deadly puppy diseases like parvo.

Being removed from their mother too early means the puppies are deprived of the social contact. The mother, reduced to a breeding machine, is often too weak to care for her children, as she is bred over and over again with next to no recovery time allowed in between litters.

A few weeks after their birth, the puppies may be sold to pet stores or be advertised online. In some cases, these animals are sold without proper vaccinations, worming treatments or microchipping.

Sick puppies

How is puppy farming legal?

While the welfare conditions on a puppy farms may be illegal under animal cruelty standards set out in various Australian state and territory codes of practice, puppy farming itself has not been considered illegal as a practice in the past.

Encouragingly, several Australian states are introducing new legislation to protect animals from intensive breeding, with Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia currently looking into restricting the number of animals a commercial breeder can own and tighter regulations around the registration of animals.

Animals being sold online

Poor regulations have allowed many classified ads sites to become a safe haven for deception and animal suffering. Many websites fail to meet the required standards for protecting animals sold online, as well as the people looking for a pet. Some of the key issues with animals being traded online are:

  • Free animals can be acquired for illegal activity such as dog fighting (read Trixie's story here) and illegal breeding.
  • Lack of available information on the responsibilities that come with owning an animal for prospective owners.
  • Online selling also leads to impulse buying, which can then lead to animal abandonment i.e. animals being delivered as free or ‘must go’ today.
  • Breeding of animals with exaggerated features for online sale, such as ‘designer dogs’ who suffer from genetic breeding faults, for instances pugs who have difficulty breathing.
  • Swapping animals like commodities online for example with other animals, products or services
  • Wild captured animals being sold as pets

It’s in the hands of global companies such as eBay who own 11 classified ad sites around the world (including Gumtree), to change that and lead the way.

What can Australians do to not support puppy farming?

 Before you buy a puppy, pay attention to the seller, does the seller have a lot of puppies for sale? 

Asking the breeder all the right questions will help you find the perfect animal to join the family. Ask as many questions as you can, such as for the microchip and vaccination papers. What can they tell you about the breed? Does the animal require a lot of exercise?  Is the animal child-friendly? Essentially, people need to listen to their instincts. If something feels off, then find another option.


Read our Puppy Buying Checklist >>> 


What does FOUR PAWS want?

At the heart of this issue is consumer responsibility, it is consumers creating this demand for online pets, so it is also the consumer who can end it.

At FOUR PAWS we strongly advocate for adoption. Choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group not only saves the life of that animal, but also positively contributes to the ongoing fight against animal overpopulation and homelessness.

If people do want to buy an animal, then we recommend they follow our buying guide to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes.


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