19 May 2022

Puppy farmers sentenced over 'heartbreaking' animal cruelty

| Chris Roe
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Sick dog

‘Strawberry’ received no vet care following complications in delivering a litter of puppies. Photo: RSPCA NSW.

WARNING: This story may distress some readers.

A pair of puppy breeders have been sentenced for animal cruelty over the mistreatment of dogs in their care following raids in Copeton near Inverell and Ashmont in Wagga Wagga in 2020.

RSPCA investigators found hundreds of animals kept in appalling conditions and dozens in poor health, living in concrete kennels with no bedding and wet floors covered in fecal matter.

In sentencing, Magistrate Holly Kemp referred to the death of a female boxer named Strawberry.

She said Strawberry was “innately vulnerable, utterly helpless and dependant on humans to ensure the right treatment was offered to her”, Magistrate Kemp explained.

“There was a failure on the part of the defendant, as a result of which she endured hours of suffering leading up to her death.”

Emaciated dog

Hundreds of dogs were examined and dozens were seized in the raid on the breeding facilities. Photo: RSPCA NSW.

The father and daughter, who operated one of the state’s largest intensive companion animal breeding establishments, pleaded guilty and were convicted of 18 offences.

The conviction follows operations carried out in September 2020 by the RSPCA NSW’s Intensive Breeding Taskforce.

After following up on reports that Strawberry had died after not receiving veterinary treatment, inspectors conducted simultaneous searches at Copeton and Ashmont.

A total of 441 dogs were examined, including 250 puppies. Twenty-one adult dogs and 41 puppies were seized, and the defendants were ordered to seek veterinary treatment for another 32 dogs within two to four weeks.

Animals were suffering from a range of health issues, including ear infections, severe dental disease, intestinal worms, poor body condition, conjunctivitis, matted coats, wounds and urine scalding.

The dogs received the necessary care from the RSPCA team and have now been rehomed with rescue groups and families.

The dogs lived in concrete kennels with no bedding. Photo: RSPCA NSW.

Strawberry could not be saved.

RSPCA Chief Veterinarian Liz Arnott determined that the breeding boxer had suffered for almost two days before her death after being stricken with dystocia, a birthing condition considered a veterinary emergency.

RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers described Strawberry’s untimely death as “nothing short of heartbreaking,”

“The scale of this case highlights the critical role that our Intensive Breeding Task Force plays in the protection and welfare of puppies and their mothers,” he said.

“RSPCA NSW has identified approximately 900 breeding facilities in our state, and our team are working tirelessly to inspect each one, to prevent any more animals from suffering at the hands of irresponsible breeders.”

The court convicted and fined the man a total of $16,700.

The woman was convicted and fined $4,200 for her role in the operation.

Dog with conjunctivitis

Animals were suffering from a range of health issues, including ear infections, severe dental disease, intestinal worms, poor body condition and conjunctivitis. Photo: RSPCA NSW.

The pair agreed to orders sought by RSPCA NSW to reduce the size of the breeding establishment from 180 bitches and 25 stud dogs to no more than 80 bitches and 25 stud dogs.

In addition to the reduction in the size of the establishment, the defendants were ordered to pay animal care costs of $150,000 to RSPCA NSW.

It’s not the first time the Copeton puppy farm operators have fronted the court. The facility was also the subject of RSPCA raids in 2015.

If you have animal welfare concerns, call RSPCA NSW to investigate on 1300 CRUELTY.

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Victoria stopped this horrific practices with the introduction of Oscars Law. We need Oscars Law in every state to prevent this continuing to happen. We need to be a voice for these innocent dogs who can’t speak or defend themselves.

Mary Mc Cance1:20 pm 24 May 22


They will not change. This facility is run by greed and uncaring people who do not care about the dogs only the mighty dollar.

These operations should have been shut down and gaol time served. No place for these cruel people to be allowed to still operate. Unbelievable!!! Copeton operators have been in trouble before!!! Thank you to the RSPCA but we need better laws and sronger courts!!!!!

Elaine Goodyer11:05 pm 19 May 22

Totally cruel and disgusting. They should have been gaoled for at least 5 yrs. each..all the dogs and puppies siezed immediately and treated for the many problems they had..sold or rehomed to those who would give them safe loving homes. Those cruel selfish greedy people should NEVER be allowed to ever have another animal of any kind..All the pens etc should be destroyed and the cost covered by those two. The fines not to replace any prison terms or any other punishment..but still to be paid by those morons.People who breed animals for money have to learn that those animals feel pain, and fear, and it is their right to be loved and cared for in a safe loving environment. If people cant and won’t do that they have no business being near any animal. The courts have to start sending a strong message to people who cause so much pain and fear to animals.

Why are they still able to operate? Prison is too good for them!

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