The Victorian government is cracking down on illegal puppy farms by introducing tough new penalties, massive fines for cruelty, equipping the RSPCA with new policing and confiscation powers, seizing profits and assets of illegal puppy farms and establishing an Animal Welfare Fund.

 “Legislation being introduced into Parliament this week will deliver on our election commitment to crack down on illegal puppy farms and ensure operators are held accountable for the welfare of animals in their care,” Mr Baillieu said.

“We are not going to tolerate cruelty to animals and these are some of the strongest laws ever introduced to protect animals from abuse and neglect.

“I am appalled by the images I have seen of abused and helpless animals and we will be establishing a $1.6 million Animal Welfare Fund to assist organisations that provide care and treatment for these abused animals.

“The legislation will also make it illegal to sell or advertise the sale of puppies without a microchip identification number or notice, giving the community confidence that puppies sold are only from legitimate breeders,” Mr Baillieu said.

The crackdown includes:

• an increase in maximum penalties for puppy farms operating illegally, from $1,195 to $20,000

• penalties of up to $30,000 for rogue operators that breach a Code of Practice

• a ban on owning animals, of up to 10 years, for those found guilty of operating un-registered puppy farms or breaching a code of conduct

• the introduction of a new offence for breeding establishments that fail to provide a microchip number (or council domestic animal business registration number) in an advertisement for a dog or cat

• the potential seizure of profits, assets and property of illegal puppy farm operators