An animal is for life, not just for Christmas. In reality, gifting an animal for Christmas is an absolute nightmare. Let me tell you why. Animals are not objects; they are living, sentient beings, who rely on their human companions 24/7 for their care. Unlike a video game, we cannot turn a puppy off when we are making dinner or put him on a shelf when the kids go to bed. Every companion animal needs ongoing attention, play, feeding, training and care. Adopting a new member of the family should never be an impulsive decision. Whether it is due to the time and energy commitment, the budget required to provide veterinary care or even that their new dog is no longer a cute puppy, each year pounds, shelters and rescues report an influx of animals after Christmas as people realise they are not capable of raising their new furry family member. While it is easy to return or exchange an unwanted toy, game or even a bicycle that was received for Christmas, animals are not toys; they are a lifetime commitment. Their lives are not refundable or disposable. Put simply, surrendering or even dumping an animal at a pound or shelter can mean that an animal could die.
Each year tens of thousands of healthy, homeless animals capable of being rehomed are euthanised, often killed due to a lack of resourcing, space or willingness to care for them by the council pounds. This horrific practice is known as "convenience killing", and it is exacerbated by the abandonment of animals after the Christmas period. Overseas, pounds, shelters and responsible breeders have been trying to combat the impulsive buying of Christmas puppies by refusing to adopt animals over the Christmas period, instead providing gift certificates so that people can put much-needed consideration into whether an animal is right for them. While it is a step in the right direction, adoption restrictions do not solve the problem.
Many Christmas puppies come from backyard breeders and puppy farms, meaning that impulsive buying is not only putting animals' lives at risk but supporting cruel breeding practices. Dogs on puppy farms face a lifetime of suffering, with mother dogs forced to pump out litter after litter until their bodies no longer cope. Their puppies can also suffer from a range of behavioural and medical issues, caused by the unsanitary conditions, a lack of appropriate veterinary treatment, lack of socialisation or as a result of the common practice of inbreeding.
Just this year we have heard horror stories of puppies, purchased from puppy farms, that have debilitating lifelong illnesses. They are unable to breathe or walk properly and require thousands of dollars of veterinary care. Each year animal rescue charities warn of puppy farmers cashing in on demand during the Christmas season, hiking up prices and selling unhealthy puppies. I have repeatedly called on the agriculture Minister and the local government Minister to introduce legislation to protect dogs in New South Wales, but they have failed to take action. Now puppy farming is running rampant in our State, and the risk of buying a dog from an unscrupulous breeder this Christmas is only getting higher. Christmas should be a time of celebration, not a dog's death sentence. Dogs do not belong in puppy farms. They do not belong underneath a Christmas tree. Dogs are not toys that can be discarded after the Christmas sparkle has worn off. They are lifelong companions that deserve a loving home. This festive season I urge all members to remember that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. I ask Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall to give dogs something they really want for Christmas: a ban on puppy farming.