Ruff justice

By BELINDA SCOTT

BANNING the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops would not stop impulse buying, a Coffs Harbour vet said yesterday.

Michael Featherstone described as 'ridiculous' a radical law proposed by NSW Independent Clover Moore.

Ms Moore has tabled the Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill which would ban pet shops from selling not only dogs and cats, but other mammals in order to reduce the huge number of unwanted pets put down each year.

If the bill was passed, it would restrict the sale of mammals to registered breeders, animal pounds, shelters and vets.

Ms Moore said this would help prevent the impulse buying of pets and end backyard breeders and puppy farms.

She said animals were often kept in appalling conditions where they are forced to breed until they could not breed any more, before being killed.

But Mr Featherstone said most people went to pet shops already intending to buy and the law would be ineffective in cutting down impulse buying.

Mr Featherstone said the problem was not with people selling the animals, but those irresponsibly breeding them, but the difficulty was to find a way of stopping this.

The manager of Coffs Harbour's RSPCA Animal Shelter, Sue Merrick said while the RSPCA supported the bill and that stance was supported by what she saw at the Coffs Harbour shelter, the eventual aim was compulsory desexing of all dogs and cats and registration of all breeders.

She said far from making a profit, the shelter lost money on each dog it re-homed, because of the veterinary expenses and stringent health and behaviour checks involved.

She urged anyone buying a dog to study the breed properly.

"For example shar pei are bred for fighting, can be very aggressive and have major problems with skin irritation," she said.

Shar peis look both cute and approachable with their deeply-wrinkled coats, appear in advertisements for toilet tissue and family cars.

Nicole Wilson, a member of the Pet Industry Association of Australia, said the PIAA imposed a strict code of conduct and strict guidelines on its pet shop members.

"I guess impulse buying is a problem in some pet shops," said Ms Wilson, the manager and part owner of Coffs Harbour's Brontosaurus Pet Super Centre.

"But we are very aware that it could be a problem and we make sure that we give people plenty of time to think about it."

Ms Wilson said with dogs and cats, she bought only from reputable breeders, accepted animals only on consignment and kept detailed records, but she said children often liked to breed guinea pigs, rabbits and mice and bring them into the pet shop for sale.



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