Greta, Aggy and Stella are three breeding dogs, all who were rescued from Victorian puppy factories. They spent their entire lives confined to small, concrete cages to churn out puppies to be sold in pet shops – a practice which is now outlawed in Victoria, but remains legal in most other Australian states.

They were given nothing but a plastic tub to sleep in. All three were born at the puppy farm before going into the breeding cycle, meaning they never knew of life outside until they left.

Aggy, who was rescued at 8 years of age, and knew nothing of kindness until then, remains timid and scared 3 years after her rescue. She is comfortable in her home, but still cowers at humans who try to pat her, and shakes in fear when she has to be picked up. She is an example of the long term psychological impacts that come as a result of factory farming companion animals. Many will recover from the physical abuse, but few will ever fully recover from the mental abuse.

A few days after Aggy was rescued, she collected all of her new toys and hid them away. At first, we thought she was playing a game, but we soon realised this was a response to her puppies being continuously taken away from her before they were properly weaned. She was trying to hide her babies. 

Despite her trauma, Aggy loves her daily walks, where she seems to almost momentarily forget her fears as she explores new scenery and takes in new smells. This is a huge change from when she was rescued in 2018, and was afraid to place her paw on grass for the first time. When she isn’t walking, her favourite thing to do is lie in the sun in the garden.

Ward, Greta and Georgie.

Greta, who was rescued at 3 years of age, was living with a chronic and untreated ear infection. Her ears were also full of mites. She had to have teeth removed because they were already rotten from lack of care and inappropriate food. She also had an untreated hip injury. A common practice on puppy factories is to leave medical issues without treatment – as vet bills impact the bottom line. The dogs are there for one thing – to make money for the puppy farmer.

Greta has developed into a playful, happy and dorky girl. She loves to be the centre of attention and stands on her back legs to dance every morning when we get up. But every now and then, she will be frightened by the smallest things that reveal the abuse she endured – such as items being dropped on the ground.

Greta loves to get up early (earlier than we’d like!!) and explore the backyard each morning. She loves to eat pineapple and go for drives. She no longer sits in the backseat with the other dogs, she insists on riding up front with us and taking in the scenery.

Greta and Georgie.

Stella spent just one year on the puppy farm she was born into, but the impact it had on her was severe. Stella had a litter of puppies at just 9 months of age, when she was still a puppy herself. She remains terrified of men, and has only taken to the two people she shares her home with. She refuses to let anyone else pat her, and will hide in a bush in the garden when visitors come.

Stella loves to go out in public and join us out for brunch, but she is still too anxious to walk down on the ground or on the footpath, so she comes along in a doggy pram that lets her feel safe and secure.

It took a long time for Stella to learn to walk on the lead, but now she loves going for walks. She will happily walk 10km and still have the energy to do it again! When she was in the puppy farm, Stella was denied any possibility of properly exercising.

Stella.

Greta, Aggy and Stella’s stories aren’t unique. Prolonged mental and physical suffering is a common feature of dogs rescued from puppy factories. Puppy farmed dogs are their best advocates. It is impossible to meet one and not be impacted by their behaviour – their inability to be ‘normal’ dogs. Greta, Aggy and Stella are safe now – but thousands of dogs continue to languish inside puppy factories around the country. The best way to end this cruel trade is to never buy a puppy from a pet shop or online – and more importantly, make adoption your only option.

Author:
Georgie Purcell

Georgie has been involved in the animal protection movement since 2011. Professionally, Georgie works full time as Chief of Staff to the Animal Justice Party’s first Victorian Member of Parliament and is responsible for a small but dedicated team of animal protection campaigners. Voluntarily, she is President of Oscar’s Law, Australia’s most prominent anti-puppy farming campaign. She has been with the organisation in various roles since 2014. The high-profile campaigns and political lobbying of Oscar’s Law has seen historic legislation to end puppy factories and ban the sale of puppies in pet shops pass in Victoria, with similar legislation proposed in other states. Georgie is passionate about intersectionality and solidarity between social justice movements. Before taking on the Victorian Parliament, Georgie worked in the union movement. She holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communications/Public Relations with a minor in politics. Georgie is admitted as an Australian lawyer, is a graduate of Melbourne University’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women and alumni of Centre for Australian Progress. Georgie lives on Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri Country in the Macedon Ranges with a small sanctuary of rescued farm and companion animals.

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