Puppy broker who was banned from selling animals for three years continued to trade illegally

A puppy broker banned from operating a pet business has allegedly sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of dogs in front of Victoria’s law enforcement agencies.

Flora Mala has been banned from selling animals for three years by a court but operates from two properties in the Victoria region.

Animal activist group Oscar’s Law has been following the activities of Ms Mala and her suspected puppy matching syndicate and found dozens of allegedly illegal advertisements online for multiple breeds of puppies at advertised prices of up to $6,500 each.

One of the members of Ms Mala’s syndicate was previously fined $15,000 for selling a dog that was so emaciated and badly infested with worms that it nearly died.

Late last year, the syndicate advertised $150,000 worth of dogs over a two-month period on Gumtree and Trading Post.

Dachshund puppies sold for $3,500.(delivered)

Some of the dogs were advertised with fake pedigree numbers, which is a mandatory identifier for anyone selling pets in Victoria.

ABC’s 7.30 spoke to Ms Mala on the phone.

She denied selling dogs in the past year.

Oscar’s Law founder Debra Tranter has reported the adverts to local council, Victoria’s animal rights group and the Minister for Agriculture since October last year.

Ms Mala’s activities were also reported to the RSPCA in Victoria by a member of the public in January.

However, Ms Tranter said the numerous reports and evidence she and others had filed had not led to any action by law enforcement agencies.

A woman cuddles a small dog.
Debra Tranter reported the puppy ads to authorities.(abc news)

“Your inaction has allowed this company to stay in business and sell puppies to the public,” Ms. Tranter said.

All adverts linked to Ms Mala and her alleged syndicate were removed on March 7, just shortly after 7.30am contacted the Victoria Department of Agriculture for a reply.

The RSPCA and Animal Welfare Victoria announced at 7.30am that they support an ongoing inter-agency investigation into animal breeding, rearing and sales activities.

Victoria’s Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said in a statement that it was her clear expectation that advertising platforms remove all non-compliant pet ads.

New puppy came home with health problems

Victorian man Michael Beavis said 7.30am that he had bought a puppy with multiple health complications from Flora Mala’s alleged syndicate.

A man cuddles a small puppy colored white, black and tan.
Michael Beavis bought Trixie after seeing the pup being advertised online.(Delivered: Michael Beavis )

He said he went through some health issues himself last year when he started looking for a pet.

“I have been looking for a rescued animal to adopt and they are not available,” he said.

“So I ended up going to Gumtree and Trading Post and then I finally came across Trixie.”

Mr. Beavis picked up the border collie in the ad from Ms. Mala’s home address and paid $800 to a syndicate member.

However, he says his new dog, Trixie, showed health problems within an hour of bringing her home.

Trixie has been diagnosed with a range of medical issues including gastritis, canine coronavirus and giardia.

But when Mr. Beavis contacted the seller, she fell silent.

Mr Beavis later discovered that Trixie’s vaccination records were incomplete and that her origin number was fake. This meant that the true identity of the seller could not be traced.

A man in a hat and t-shirt
Michael Beavis says he received no response when he tried to contact his dog’s seller about Trixie’s health issues.(abc news)

He complained to the RSPCA about the seller and issued a statement, but the RSPCA closed its investigation into the case with no conclusion, saying the seller could not be identified.

Frustrated by the outcome, Mr Beavis contacted Ms Tranter at Oscar’s Law, who was able to confirm that Trixie had been sold by Flora Mala’s suspected syndicate.

A few months later, members of Oscar’s Law posed as buyers and bought a puppy directly from Mrs. Mala while secretly recording their interaction.

Spacebar to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Play video.  Duration: 41 seconds

Video shows Flora Mala accepting cash for a French bulldog puppy

Video footage shows Ms Mala accepting an envelope containing cash in exchange for a French bulldog puppy.

This video was also shared with several law enforcement and government agencies.

Puppy breeding capital of Australia

An increase in puppy brokerage activity is believed to have been due to the increased focus on puppy breeding in Victoria.

The state recently introduced a number of restrictions on pet breeding, including a cap of 10 dogs per kennel.

There are no such restrictions in New South Wales and this has led to an increasing number of breeders in Victoria moving across the border.

NSW Animal Justice MP Emma Hurst introduced legislation last year to tighten the law in her state.

Her bill has sparked a parliamentary inquiry into animal welfare laws.

A woman with long blond hair is sitting on the floor with her arm around a dog.
NSW MLC Emma Hurst is campaigning for tougher laws against animal cruelty and puppy farming. (Delivered: Emma Hurst)

Ms Hurst said NSW has become “the puppy breeding capital of Australia”.

“In NSW it’s perfectly legal for someone to set up an intensive dog factory with, say, 600 bitches and force them to spend their lives pumping out garbage after garbage,” she said.

In the NSW border town of Moama, Murray River Council Mayor Chris Bilkey said at 7.30am the area had seen a 500 per cent increase in applications for intensive dog breeding over the past year.

Mr Bilkey said he had no doubt the increase was due to Victoria’s new puppy farm laws.

Murray River Council Mayor Chris Bilkey wears a suit and looks at the camera.
Councilor Chris Bilkey says his area has seen a 500 percent increase in applications for intensive breeding over the past year.(delivered)

“That made it attractive to Victorian puppy breeders who were no longer willing or able to comply with these new regulations to move their operations across the border to NSW,” Mr Bilkey said.

Mr Bilkey said he was concerned about a certain development application for a 320-dog kennel in Moama in April last year.

The facility is owned by a man who relocated to Moama from Victoria after pleading guilty to two charges of animal cruelty and being banned from running a pet business in the state for 10 years.

The council approved the breeding facility, but Mr Bilkey said he had no choice.

“We have been told by our lawyers that this is the case [refusal] was a route to the Land and Environment Court and one we would certainly lose,” he said.

“It was one of the most horrific decisions I’ve been a part of and the lingering taste in our mouth was awful.”

Mr Bilkey is one of 65 local councilors who signed a letter to the Prime Minister of NSW last year urging him to take urgent action on the issue of large-scale dog breeding facilities in the state.

Watch this story tonight at 7:30 on ABC TV and ABC iview

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