A Queensland council has gone against the advice of its own staff in rejecting a major dog-breeding facility, even while noting it could spark costly legal action.
- The facility proposed for the Sunshine Coast is rejected, counter to the advice of council staff
- Councillors had concerns about the welfare of the breeding females
- The breeder says all its puppies are born and raised in a safe, clean, loving environment
The plan was lodged by Diamond Valley Kennels to have 60 adult dogs inside the facility for breeding and a further 48 for boarding.
The facility would also include boarding for 20 cats.
The proposal ignited a storm of activism against the plan and Sunshine Coast Regional Council was inundated with up to 400,000 submissions sent via anti-puppy farm group Oscar’s Law.
The volume of submissions was so large that many were blocked because council servers treated the flood of objections as a potential cyber attack.
All but about 4,000 were excluded; just 104 of those included a home address, which is needed for submissions to be considered.
Under the region’s planning rules, animal keeping is an allowed use and council officers recommended it be approved on those grounds.
Councillors go against advice
Deputy Mayor Rick Baberowski introduced an alternative motion that asked councillors to reject the plan, saying it was not appropriate due to its “location, nature, scale and intensity”.
He and most councillors spoke against the proposal, raising concerns over the potential welfare of the breeding dogs in the so-called puppy farm.
Cr Winston Johnston became emotional when discussing the proposal, describing it as an “incredibly intensive farming operation for dogs”.
“I have no doubt that puppies that come through this breeding process would probably go to good homes,” he said.
“My concern is for the breeding dogs that are on site and the number of them.”
Council could face legal challenge
Cr Christian Dickson held up a council-produced document in the meeting that said it would “encourage adoption not shopping” in relation to animal ownership and endorsed partnership with animal rescue groups.
Peter Cox was the only councillor to oppose the rejection, saying he had owned a “designer dog” for seven years.
He warned that rejecting the plan when it fitted with council’s planning rules meant it would likely face costly legal action.
“Don’t end up making the wrong decision,” he said.
Cr Ted Hungerford voted against the breeding facility but warned that a court might rule to approve the plan but with less strict conditions.
Cr Baberowski said councillors were often expected to coldly consider planning matters and not other concerns.
“In the end, it’s simply an awful thing to do to animals bred to be companions,” he said.
After the vote, Cr Dickson said even if the decision had to be fought in court, it would still be the right one.
“That’s what people elected us for,” he said.
“If people just wanted us to follow the planning scheme and officer advice, there’s no need for councillors.
Breeder says all its puppies are ‘loved’
Diamond Valley already has a dog-breeding centre on the Sunshine Coast, where it can legally breed a maximum of 32 dogs.
Its website advertises that it specialises in breeding “cavoodles, spoodles, miniature dachshunds plus other small breeds”.
The dogs available for sale range from $3,900 for a Cavalier x Shih tzu up to $6,000 for a female mini cavoodle.
Its website says all dogs at the facility are “loved and cared for, with great interaction with family, staff and other adult dogs”.
“Our large facility gives them plenty of space for them to exercise each day.”
It also says it is an approved member of the Pet Industry Association Australia, that it fully complies with its code of conduct and is inspected annually by the council.
Diamond Valley Kennels has been contacted for comment.