ABC’s Australia Wide this weekend ran a segment on the Victorian Labor government’s plans to shut down the widely condemned puppy factories across the state and stop the sale of puppies and kittens in retail outlets.
The segment featured interviews with Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford, Liz Walker CEO of the RSPCA, Matt Hams owner and operator (with father Colin) of one of Australia’s largest puppy factories, and Greg Kirby owner and operator of Upmarket Pets one of Melbourne’s most controversial pet stores.
The segment also featured images from the RSPCA and police raid on two neighbouring properties in Longwood, properties that had been referred to RSPCA by animal advocate organisation Oscars Law. That raid saw 4 dogs euthanised and 119 dogs seized.
The segment did its best to portray both sides of the argument however without a broad knowledge of the issue I guess it is easy to let a few lies and deliberately misleading statements slip through. When dealing with an industry that is at its most desperate due to the upcoming legislation you can be sure that they will not be holding nothing back, and when it is an industry that is renowned for thriving on animal cruelty you can rest assured that a few lies and misleading statements are going to have a huge impact on their moral standing.
With that in mind I thought I’d do a quick fact check on some of the claims made by Kirby and the Christmas Ham’s.
While neither the Ham’s or Kirby denied there was an issue with animal cruelty in puppy factories there are understandable differences of opinion in how to deal with the matter. Understandable due to Kirby and the Hams making a living from the industry and Pulford and Walker having to deal with the public outcry and the cost of clean-up and veterinary treatments after one is closed down or raided.
The Ham’s are always keen to tell the world that they would love to see these “rogue breeders” closed down. Just as I’m sure Coca Cola would like to see “rogue operators” like Pepsi and Schweppes close down. Every puppy factory shut down is less competition for them, one less supplier to the pet stores that the Ham’s rely on as retail vendors for their products.
The Ham’s also claim that the RSPCA have never found issue with their business Banksia Park Puppies. Unfortunately that claim does not stack up as I have mentioned in a previous article on the Ham’s business practices and woeful customer support.
“RSPCA Inspection reports obtained through Freedom Of Information Act detail Banksia Park Puppies employees picking up dogs by the scruff of the neck in a cruel manner that causes animal’s considerable pain and stress. According to the report the RSPCA had to then explain to staff the correct way to handle dogs. If this is how staff treat dogs while RSPCA inspectors are present one can only speculate how they are treated normally.”
Another lie the Ham’s like to tell is that they are open to people coming onto their property to see the conditions, many area’s are off limits. They also like to say that they invited animal advocates like Debra Tranter from Oscars Law to attend their open day.
Below are quotes from Tranters invitation which arrived care of Law 554 Solicitors.
Matt Hamms, 5457 South Gippsland Highway, Longford, Victoria
ACA Breeding Kennels Stradbroke and now known as Banksia Park Puppies
We act for the abovementioned who instruct us they are inviting the public to the Park on Sunday, 15
“We have been asked to advise you not to attend the premises, nor to cause any other person to attend at any time in the 12 month period and in particular on 15 November 2009.”
When it comes to ending the evils in the pet industry, Greg Kirby from Upmarket Pets told Australia Wide
“We are the solution”
After looking at the way Kirby conducts his business seemingly filming unsuspecting female customers for purposes unclear, some may suggest he is only a solution if there is an empty prison cell somewhere.
Kirby used some clever by half wordplay when he told Australia Wide that
“… it’s not true when people say all our dogs come from puppy farms and we don’t know where they’ve come from”.
It’s the all in that statement that is a bit tricky, I’m sure some of his puppies also come from backyard breeders but that doesn’t make his product sourcing any more ethical, far from it.
It is also important to note that I’m unaware of anybody making a bizarre claim that Kirby doesn’t know where his puppies come from as he states. The fact is he places orders for them from regular suppliers, they don’t just magically appear in his glass cages. The disturbing part is that Kirby does in fact know the hideous conditions his puppies come from and simply doesn’t care.
In fact when Kirby was asked by Fairfax last year about where his puppies came from he told them
“Yeah, we do get puppies from puppy farms”
Kirby’s Upmarket Pets showed how “upmarket” they are after proudly displaying a dead bunny for sale in one of their glass cages last year. Customers eventually pointed out to the less than attentive staff that the other bunnies were licking and snuggling up to the corpse Kirby was selling and it was eventually disposed of.
Perhaps the biggest lie sprouted came from Matt Hams when he repeated the claims he made on SBS’s Insight in 2014
“…but I if I could breed twice that we would sell them.”
At the time Ham’s first made that statement on SBS he declared he had 300 dogs. When he again made this claim of being unable to keep up with demand for Australia Wide for this weekend he told them he currently had 150 dogs.
I don’t claim to be a mathematical genius but I think the Christmas Ham’s may be even less so. The number Ham’s himself quotes would indicate that his business has halved over the last two years.
If Ham’s could sustain doubling his business now, he would still only be doing what he was two years ago. Hardly a growth business. Bearing in mind also, during this period he has seen numerous competitors shut down by the courts on cruelty charges.
Only a business made of fools would seek business advice from someone so mathematically and logically challenged. To prove this point the Pet Industry Association of Australia PIAA appointed him to their board last October.
Another of Ham’s lies is that Minister Pulford did not discuss this legislation with any industry stakeholders.
Matt Ham’s in fact met with Minister Pulford himself. While I’m sure Hams wasn’t stupid enough to show up with a T Bone in his hand that doesn’t make him any less a stakeholder, after all he is on the board of the pet industries and puppy factories chief lobby group PIAA and is also the owner of what is likely one of the largest puppy factories in the country. It is hardly the fault of Minister Pulford if he was unable to come up with anything of consequence to share at their meeting.
Minister Jaala Pulford has in fact met with industry stakeholders, government bodies, and animal advocacy organisations regarding this upcoming legislation and makes no apologies for honouring her election commitment.
Minister Pulford told Australia Wide she would not be losing sleep over those negatively impacted by her legislation, and nor should she. This was an issue the Daniel Andrews government went to the election on, giving them a mandate to act decisively.
For Pulford shutting down this cruel trade has been a two stage process. While some political opportunists have sought to criticise Pulford for the length of time involved, it is critical that the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed so this egg cannot be unscrambled by another government at a later date. Given this the public should be grateful that this legislation is in the hands of Minister Pulford.
I certainly am.Follow @madwixxy