Breeder cleared of puppy farm allegations
A GYMPIE dog breeder accused of running a puppy factory at Chatsworth has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the RSPCA and State Government, but told by Gympie Regional Council to reduce the number of dogs on his property.
Peter Dykstra, the owner of Sandown Alaskan Malamutes, said yesterday he had been the victim of a vicious campaign of lies and threats that had taken a heavy toll on him and his wife.
Once he had reduced the number of malamutes to comply with council approval, he would quit dog breeding, he said.
"They (the campaigners) are driving us crazy and my wife is at the point of a nervous breakdown."
Mr Dykstra has been accused of breeding genetically flawed dogs, of having too many dogs on his property and of not looking after them properly.
The campaign against him has been run by a small group of former customers, led by Andrew Urquhart, who has also lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman about the council's slow response to investigate the matter.
Mr Urquhart launched a website called End Sandown Puppy Farm and a Facebook page entitled Enforce Your Own Local Laws and Shut Down Sandown Puppy Farm, which has so far attracted more than 5130 signatures.
He says about 100 other owners of Sandown dogs have approached him since the start of his campaign, all with varying degrees of health problems.
Mr Dykstra has bred malamutes for 17 years and worked in animal husbandry for 50 years.
He is adamant that any health problems his dogs developed were caused by the owners not following his dietary instructions.
Mayor Ron Dyne said animal welfare and animal cruelty were not the jurisdiction of the council, but were "the responsibility of State Government departments or regulating bodies with jurisdiction to investigate these matters".
However, he said "this whole thing with the dogs does not sit easy with me" and he has asked his staff to keep a close eye on the issue.
Council officers inspected the Chatsworth property earlier this year and were welcomed by Mr Dykstra and allowed free access, Cr Dyne said.
They "found the kennels to be operating generally in accordance with the development approval with the exception of number of dogs housed," he said.
"The owner was issued a notice to show cause why an enforcement notice should not be issued as a means to rectify this point of non- compliance. Following consideration of the response to show cause notice council intends to issue the owner an enforcement notice to reduce the number of dogs to become compliant within six months and program monthly inspections to monitor."
RSPCA Queensland senior media advisor Michael Beatty said the RSPCA was "only too well aware of" the Sandown Malamutes issues.
"We have attended the facility and found no breaches of the Animal Care and Protection Act which covers such issues as overcrowding, shelter, feeding, adequate shade and water etc," Mr Beatty said. "Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry also attended and they came up with similar findings. However we're also aware that there is public concern over hereditary disease issues.
"I'm afraid that this does not come under our jurisdiction and there is nothing that we can do legally to address complaints of this nature."