Some of you may remember our little ginger boy, Seamus O'Kittenhead. He was sweeter than sugar, and a whole lot of fun.He adored his 'big brother', Jimmy Blossom. Seamus would copy him, and was determined to stick close.He enjoyed his special kitten milk, and regarded it as a great treat. He was a silly little kitten, who always made me smile.He was both fascinated and intimidated by the Blossom girls, Poppy and Holly. They never seemed sure what to make of the tiny little ginger!He was a fun little boy, and loved to play games. His favourite toy was a little pink felt mouse, which he liked to carry around with him.This photo was taken on the day that Seamus died. When he came to us, he was tiny, and pretty weak. He developed the cat flu, and though we fought hard, his little body just wasn't strong enough to fight it off. The reason I bring this up is a very important Bill that a lot of people are trying to get passed in the New South Wales Parliament. It is called the Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill.
While Australian households have the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, NSW has the shameful statistic of 60 000 animals being euthanised in shelters and pounds every year. This is not ok, and something has to change. The human cost to the shelter workers is horrible. I did not like being at the shelter on 'clinic days', because the pain was palpable.
The Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill aims to change the way people are able to procure animals in New South Wales. Pet shops would no longer be allowed to sell cats and dogs. As an industry concerned with profit first, they should not have the ability to sell- and make money from - living, sentient beings. To maximise profit, corners are cut. This is not ok. While the pet shops have codes of practice, they are not compulsory, and are not enforced. They want to sell the animals, so they seek out the 'soft targets'. They are not overly concerned with informing a customer about future costs, health, training, or any of the other factors that should influence their decision to bring a cat or dog into their home.
By taking away the ability of pet shops to sell animals, you destroy the market for puppy and kitten mills. There will be no excuse and nothing to hide behind for people who keep breeding animals in appalling conditions, or for seperating babies from their mums far too early.
Under the Bill, sales of animals through classifieds would be regulated, and the sale of animals at markets would be banned. Pet shops would not be allowed to have mice, birds or other animals on display at the front of the shop. Shelters, vet clinics and registered breeders could continue to sell cats and dogs. Farmers could also continue to breed farm dogs.
Pet shops do not need to sell cats and dogs to be profitable. My favourite pet shops do not sell kittens or puppies. Instead, they focus on sourcing good products. In fact, many of them are actively supporting the Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill. I travel to those shops, rather than going to a couple that are closer, because I know they have the kinds of products I am looking for. These shops also have a dedicated customer base.
Where does Seamus come into this? He was confiscated by an animal cruelty investigator from a woman trying to sell him at a market. She had already sold his siblings. She claimed to have found them under a bush and that she was trying to find them good homes, but I have since learned she was under investigation for breeding for profit. Before Seamus came to me, he had some intensive care with a vet nurse to try and give him the best chance at survival. He had bright blue eyes, and his ribs were still visible. I hate to think what the people who purchased his siblings must have gone through. I am sure they had the best intentions when paying their money. Cat flu is very contagious, so there is no doubt in my mind that they all would have come down with it, and being so small, they would have had little chance of fighting it.
You can read more about the Bill at Lead the Way or Paws For Action. If you know anyone in New South Wales, please encourage them to read about the Bill, and if they support it, to let their local member know.