NSW Farmers fights for working dog recognition in breeding standards

Sheep Central, February 19, 2018

A Kelpie working sheep.

PROPOSED New South Wales dog breeding standards and guidelines must exempt working dogs, NSW Farmers said today.

Just months after Victorian working dog owners on farms were recognised with concessions under the state’s proposed puppy farm legislation, NSW Farmers is concerned that the fundamental position of working dogs on NSW farms is under threat with proposed dog breeding regulations.

NSW Farmers said the state’s Department of Primary Industries has developed draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Breeding Dogs) Standards and Guidelines in response to animal welfare incidents on puppy farms, but they will apply to all NSW dog breeders. NSW Farmers has strongly opposed the proposed regulations applying to working dog breeders and claimed they were not feasible.

NSW Farmers Animal Welfare Committee chair James Jackson said that the proposed regulations are completely unrealistic for small breeders, and they do not differentiate between working and companion dog operations.

“These regulations are intended to address health and welfare concerns with puppy farms. The regulations focus on large commercial operations and will require all breeders to have completed specific training courses, have specialised housing facilities and detailed management procedures,” he said.

“The detailed requirements will force working dog breeders to either stop operating or continue in fear of being found non-compliant, with these overly bureaucratic requirements.

“We are deeply concerned that the vital role of working dogs in agriculture has not been considered. There is no recognition of the importance of working dogs nor that these dogs are bred for a specific purpose unlike companion dogs,” Mr Jackson said.

“NSW Farmers is calling on NSW Department of Primary Industries to exempt working dogs from these requirements, and recognise the difference between working and companion dogs.”

“Working dogs need to be treated different, otherwise they will continue to be tangled in puppy farm regulation”.

The DPI will review feedback provided to a recently concluded stakeholder consultation process and consider whether amendments are required. Click here to read the NSW discussion paper and draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Breeding Dogs) Standards and Guidelines.

Victorian working dogs recognised in proposed puppy legislation

Under the proposed puppy farm legislation in Victoria, primary producers and those contracted by a primary producer are entitled to register their dogs with local council as ‘farm working dogs’, and are eligible for a reduced registration fee.

A primary producer’s working dog bitches will not count towards a dog breeder’s fertile female dog limit and there will be no requirement to register as a Domestic Animal Business (DAB) nor meet the Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses 2014 (updated 2015). And regardless of the number of working dogs a primary producer owns, they will not have to register as a domestic animal business with their council.

Under the proposed Victorian legislation, a farm working dog is defined as a dog usually kept on rural land, by a primary producer, or a person employed by a primary producer and primarily kept or trained for the purpose of droving, protecting, tending, or working stock on a farm. A primary producer is defined as someone whose primary source of income is generated from primary production as per the land tax definition, specifically in relation to animal production.

Click here for more information on the status of farm dogs in the proposed Victorian legislation.


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  1. In theory, I agree with the above comments, but why are we seeing so many working type dogs in pounds up for adoption not wanted by the farming community? Full names required in future for reader comments please Jacki, as per Sheep Central’s long-standing comments policy: Editor.

  2. Deb Maxwell, March 14, 2018

    David Lindsay — very well said. Sums it up very well.

  3. David Lindsay, February 20, 2018

    Farmers have a lifetime, and in fact generations, of experience in animal welfare.

    I am a farmer in the Laggan region, who produces ultrafine wool and prime lamb. We have six livestock working dogs, Kelpies, for working the sheep. They are a combination of paddock and yard dogs. They range in age from 9 to 2 years old. One of our bitches, Ella, is an excellent yard dog. We compete in yard dog trials in Taralga, Gunning and at the 2017 trial at the Crookwell show. Ella won the maiden with a perfect score of 100. A perfect score is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Recently she won the novice trial at the Queanbeyan show. As she is a first-rate yard dog, I plan to breed on from her. Some of her pups will replace our older dogs and the I will sell the rest to other farmers. My situation is typical of farmers who run livestock.

    Under the proposed changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals regulations I would be classified as a breeder, as I would be selling pups for fee or reward. As such, I would have to comply with the proposed new regulations; an impossible task.

    About 87 percent of Kelpie breeders produce only one litter per year. A typical Kelpie breeder produces a litter of pups to replace older dogs. They will keep a couple of pups and sell the rest. The regulatory nature of the proposed changes means that only large scale commercial breeders will be able to comply with the proposed regulations. Most Kelpie breeders would be forced to cease to operate and this will have a detrimental impact on the quality and genetics of dogs produced.

    The NSW Companion Animals Act contains specific exemptions for working dogs on rural properties. The Working kelpie Council has developed a strong animal welfare code that applies to all registered Kelpie breeders. Through the development of this code, livestock working dogs must be exempt from the proposed changes to the POCTA Standards and Guidelines. The alternative is to see the end of Kelpie breeding in NSW.

  4. Kylie Clark, February 20, 2018

    A dog’s welfare is the same, irrespective of what it’s future purpose is. I have no problem with farmers being able to apply on a case-by-case basis for private certification (via inspection and interview) that they have the equivalent facilities, knowledge and procedures. Farm dogs should not slip through the cracks when it comes to their health and well-being.

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