Reported by local media:

Puppy farm raided
By Andrew Jefferson
Monday, 1 November 2004

ANIMAL Liberation Victoria will urge the City of Ballarat today to close down a controversial Learmonth puppy farm.

More than 50 animal rights activists - including four former farm employees - carried out a daylight raid on the property yesterday.

They were hoping to uncover breaches against the code of practice for the operation of breeding and rearing establishments.

Puppy farm owner Dr Ron Wells said yesterday's invasion was illegal and he would take legal advice about suing Animal Liveration for trespass.

He said the farm was a legal business operating in accordance with its code of practice.

Yesterday was the first time that Animal Liberation had used daylight hours to raid the farm, which holds nearly 400 dogs.

The organisation was seeking evidence to support its claims the dogs were housed in poor conditions, inhumanely euthanased and over-bred.

After using bolt-cutters to break open a locked gate, activists split into two teams to inspect the farm and distribute blankets to each pen.

Animal Liberation has previously voiced fears about the farm's high mortality rate and yesterday found a number of dead puppies wrapped in newspaper in a locked freezer.

A former staff member explained how the pen's numbering system worked.

One dog, Nobby, had the number seven-four beside his name, which meant seven puppies had been born but four had since died.

Activists also stumbled across a sick puppy wrapped in rags in a cardboard box.

Animal Liberation campaign manager Deborah Tranter said she was shocked by what she saw.

"It's just appalling," she said. "Every time I come here, I'm horrified.

"The dogs sleep on concrete and they're just breeding machines.

"Today we're sending a really strong message to Ballarat City Council to close this farm down."

But Dr Wells hit out at yesterday's invasion and said he was a high profile target of a campaign to stamp out commercial dog breeding.

"Today's entry was by force and quite illegal," he said. "They cut a heavy chain to gain entry and a sick puppy has also been taken from this property.

"That puppy was only placed on a hot water bottle this morning and was on its way to (veterinary) hospital later today."

Dr Wells defended the farm's mortality rate and said the dogs were housed in good conditions.

He said dead puppies were refrigerated so that possible autopsies could determine the causes of death.

"Of course we lose one here and there for a variety of reasons, that's normal with puppies," he said.

"We also try to clean the pens as much as we can, but the raid occurred on Sunday morning and our staff had yet to start work."

City of Ballarat acting chief executive officer Liana Thompson said a joint investigation by the RSPCA and the Bureau of Animal Welfare into the puppy farm was currently taking place.