Victory for ALV in Fight Against Puppy Factory Farm
May 3, 2005 Victoria, Australia
Animal Liberation Victoria's 10-year fight to shut down the largest puppy farm in Australia, including numerous open rescues of abused dogs, has ended victoriously with Ballarat Council announcing on May 3, 2005 that the farm will close at the end of July 2005. The announcement followed two solid days of noisy ALV protests at Ballarat Council offices. The closing of the puppy farm has received huge media coverage around Australia, alerting the public to the cruelty of puppy farms.
Day 1: ALV organised a "lock down" at Ballarat Town Hall. Wearing red ‘Ban Puppy Farming” t-shirts activists stormed the town hall ringing bells and blowing whistles. Campaign Manager Debra Tranter made it into Mayor David Vendy’s office and refused to leave until she got answers about the fate of the 200 dogs “missing” from the farm, and about what happened to the statutory declarations detailing cruelty and neglect provided to Council by former puppy farm employees. ALV also demanded that the puppy farm owner Ron Wells be prosecuted for years of violations and that an independent vet attend the farm to conduct a physical exam on each dog. A very nervous Mayor Vendy and CEO Richard Hancock agreed to meet ALV again in 24 hours to provide answers.
Day 2: ALV activists returned to Town Hall the next day only to find a note on the town hall front door "closed due to works". Undeterred, Debra Tranter, ALV President Patty Mark and the two former employees entered Town Hall through a back entrance and asked to see the mayor as per arranged appointment. The "works" were a ploy to deter activists taking over the Town Hall as they had done the previous day. The forum that was due to start at 12.30 had been moved around the corner to a restaurant as it was being hosted by Simon Crean MP and Council were clearly nervous about ALV disrupting it. While ALV was meeting with the CEO in the foyer a tip off was received on the location of forum and activists were alerted to get there quickly.
ALV's puppy farm campaign manager talks to the media
CEO Richard Hancock explained that the mayor was "unavailable" then told Debra that he would meet with them in the foyer. After 8 minutes the CEO media liasion officer came out and reminded Richard he had "other engagements and should be going now". Richard would not tell ALV where the 200 "missing" dogs were, he would not agree on the independent vet, and he would not prosecute. He did agree to look at the two former employees' Statutory Declarations provided to Andrew Bellingham (Council's manager of local laws) in September 2004 and said: "that’s news to me, I didn’t know about them".
Meanwhile, ALV protesters handed out leaflets to forum attendees, including Simon Crean and Danny Frawley. About 50 protesters made noise with whistles, bells and megaphones outside the forum, chanting “Ballarat Council condones animal abuse” and providing passers by with information about the Council’s failure to prosecute a cruel and illegal business.
Four days later Council called a press conference at Town Hall and announced the puppy farm would be closing. Council were obviously forced to act after two days of successful protests. They made this announcement 24 hours before Ron Wells was due to front the Victorian Veterinary Registration Board to answer cruelty and neglect allegations bought by the two former employees.
ALV will continue undercover investigations at the puppy farm, as grave concerns are held for the remaining 200 dogs and their pups, and will not be celebrating until the gates shut for the last time on this putrid hell hole for dogs.
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