BATHURST Regional Council has voted unanimously to endorse plans to build an $841,000 dog breeding facility at Fosters Valley.
Pet Industry Association board member John Grima will build the facility about 20 kilometres south of Bathurst to supply dogs for sale in his Sydney pet store, Kellyville Pets.
When fully operational, the facility will house up to 60 dogs – eight males and 52 females.
Mr Grima addressed Wednesday night’s council meeting when plans for the breeding facility were finally put to the vote and said it would help combat a shortage of suitable pets, particularly small dog breeds, currently available for sale in the state.
“Based on the analysis we’ve undertaken with the Pet Industry Association of Australia, the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League, the Australian Veterinary Association and Dogs NSW there is currently a demand for 132,000 dogs or puppies in NSW every year,” he said.
“Based on current numbers, only 50 per cent of that demand can be met by a combination of shelters, pet stores and breeders registered to Dogs NSW.
“That means around 66,000 dogs or puppies are more than likely being supplied from online sales where there’s no transparency and animal welfare protection.”
But Mr Grima did not have it all his own way at the meeting.
A number of speakers were vehemently against the project, citing animal welfare concerns and saying the facility was not needed.
Animal Justice League convenor Lisa Ryan told the meeting she had been into “more puppy factories than most councillors will have had hot breakfasts” and said there was no benefit in the dog breeding facility proposal to either council or the Bathurst community.
“There are going to be 60 dogs there that are there for one reason – to breed puppies to be transported from Bathurst to Mr Grima’s Kellyville Pets store to be sold for profit,” Ms Ryan said.
“Bathurst, which has a good reputation as a very warm and inviting rural area, will end up known as the puppy haven of NSW.
“What Mr Grima is doing may be legal but … councillors also have a responsibility to consider what does your community want, what does the NSW public want, and I implore you to say no and refuse this application.”
But councillors were satisfied the proposal met all council’s planning rules and would be a welcome addition to the Bathurst community.
Cr Alex Christian said he supported the proposal and questioned whether objectors who had signed a petition calling for the breeding facility to be rejected represented the feelings of most Bathurst people.
“One thing that has to be made clear is that almost all those who signed the petition were not from the Bathurst region,” he said.
“I counted 26 names from the Bathurst region out of about 6000 names.
“If there were 6000 people in the Bathurst area opposed to this then that might be something but I’m not really worried what Llewelyn of Nebraska has to say on the issue.”
Cr Jess Jennings told objectors they should instead target their anger towards the state and federal government if their goal was to outlaw such breeding facilities.