Geraldton Dog Rescue president Lenci Millman says new legislation to ban puppy farms will also address Geraldton’s main puppy problem: backyard breeders. “There was no previous laws that said dogs had to be de-sexed — now all dogs not owned by registered breeders have to be sterilised by the age of two,” she said. “There are people in the community who have regular litters and I’d love to see them comply with the new laws.” Under laws to be introduced to WA’s Parliament, puppy farms will be outlawed and the purchase of puppies from pet shops banned. Registered breeders will still be able to breed dogs and, through a central registration system, it will be possible to track dogs throughout their lives. The legislation will also give authorities the power to shut down illegal breeders. Although no Geraldton pet shops sell puppies, breeders often advertise them online. Jaza Wilson, who manages Pet City in Geraldton, said consumer demand for puppies may drive unregistered breeders underground. “Personally I think it’s a great idea to stop puppy farming, but I’m worried it’s going to push the industry underground,” he said. “I think the best option would be regulating the industry. Years ago when we sold dogs here we had to inspect breeders and had affidavits they had to sign before we would sell their dogs.” The City of Greater Geraldton said rangers picked up more than 1000 dogs each year. Although about half of these were returned to their owners, the remainder needed to be re-homed through organisations like Geraldton Dog Rescue. In a statement, Premier Mark McGowan said dogs were an important part of many families in WA and this legislation would help ensure they were looked after and treated well throughout their lives. “We will also be providing assistance to pet shops to help them transition to dog and puppy adoption centres, meaning they can re-home displaced and abandoned dogs,” he said.