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The RSPCA has major concerns about the breeding and supply of companion animals and the under-regulation of pet shops. We strongly support a compulsory legislated registration and licensing system for all outlets selling pets including pet shops, breeders and markets to cover not only the way in which animals are kept and sold, but the way in which they are bred and supplied.
The RSPCA's Position Paper A4 - Sale of companion animals from pet shops (see link below) sets out what the RSPCA believes should be the minimum requirements of a licensing system and code of practice for these enterprises.
If you are looking for a new pet, we recommend you first consider adopting from the RSPCA or another reputable animal welfare or rescue organisation. The RSPCA has many different types of pets available for adoption. Check out the RSPCA website Adoptapet.com.au for information and photos of the pets available at the RSPCA. If you don't find the pet you are looking for straight away, do keeping looking - the right match for you may happen soon.
The assessment process for companion animals at RSPCA shelters means that prospective owners can be assured of getting a great pet that suits their family and lifestyle, while at the same time they are providing an animal with a good home. One very important aspect that distinguishes the RSPCA from commercial animal sellers, such as pet shops, is that as well as assessing the suitability of animals for adoption, we also assess the suitability of prospective owners. This is a fundamental part of ensuring that the fit between owner and pet is a good and lasting one.
Some pet shops have moved away from the commercial sale of cats and dogs and are working with the RSPCA and other animal rescue groups and organisations to run on-site adoption centres.
If you can't find the right pet for you at the RSPCA or through another adoption centre, then the next step is to find a good breeder. Acquiring a pet directly from the place where they were born minimises stress to the animal and allows prospective buyers to check the living conditions and make sure the other animals on site are happy and healthy.
If during your search for the right pet, you observe any suspect practices or inadequate facilities or care, please make an animal cruelty report as soon as possible. Reports of this kind have helped the RSPCA to identify illegal puppy farms, leading to the rescue, treatment and rehoming of neglected animals and the prosecution of the owners.
Some States have minimal legal standards for pet shops prescribed in a welfare code of practice – see table below for further information. However these minimum standards do not mean that pet shops provide good welfare for animals as the standards themselves may be inadequate.