Australasian Animal Studies Association

Dark side to Designer Dogs. Digital print on aluminium, 60cm (height) x 90cm (width)


The image shows the innocence of cute puppies in a glass display cage taken through the window of a pet shop in Melbourne in January 2011. Puppy farms and back yard breeders are primarily the hidden business behind the cute puppy in the pet shop window. The price of the puppies in the image was $1300 each. These puppies were not pure bred but are “designer puppies” and come with no pedigree (cavoodle, spoodle, beaglier, pugalier, spanatriever etc are not registered breeds). I asked about the parents of the puppies (i.e. if I could inspect the dogs and also the names of the breeders of the puppies). I was told “No I could not have details of the names of the breeders of the puppies or the parents of the puppies” due to “breeder discretion”. I have used the image of a spider’s web superimposed over the puppies as a metaphor for the trapped life of the parents of the puppy and the web of deception spun by those in the pet shop industry to consumers.  Pet shop sales staff and Puppy factories can mislead buyers by calling themselves ‘registered breeders’. It is important to ask whether these ‘registered breeders’ are in fact registered with any kennel or breeding association and not just registered with the local council.

The web also represents an ensnarling and controlling force exerted on the lives of those dogs who are imprisoned for life churning out puppies to supply “goods” for pet shops (retail outlets for puppy farms and back yard breeders).  I have superimposed a cobweb over the images of the puppies as the issue of selling live animals in pet shops is one in which webs of deception are often used to mislead consumers. What the consumer can’t see is the puppy’s mother and father often imprisoned miles away. These intelligent sentient beings are often not walked, socialised or given any love – they are simply breeding machines. The codes of practice under which puppy factories operate have very minimal standards and are not reflective of what the community considers to be appropriate animal welfare standards.

In addition, the mothers of the puppies are often bred “back to back”, essentially trapped in a life of misery while they produce puppies for sale in pet shops. It’s not uncommon for female dogs as young as six months old to churn out litters constantly for their entire lives.  When they’re no longer able to breed, they are often killed. Animal liberationists have staged illegal raids on designer puppy farms and back yard breeders to document and obtain evidence as to the dogs’ living conditions. Many photographs and films of puppy farm raids are available for public viewing on the Internet. Perhaps the most shocking truth about puppy factories is that they’re operating right here, in towns all across Australia.

In June 2011 the RSPCA started a sticker campaign asking Pet Shops to Prove that they don’t buy their puppies from puppy factories. RSPCA estimates that 95% of puppies sold in pet shops are produced in puppy factories or by backyard breeders. As part of their campaign RSPCA asked “Why do pet shops refuse to reveal the supplier details of their puppies? Privacy is an excuse to not be transparent – what does your local pet shop have to hide?”

Approximately 250,000 healthy animals (mainly unwanted dogs and cats) are killed every year yet puppy farms and back yard breeders continue to operate and continue to supply large numbers of puppies to the pet shop industry.


Anne Greenaway is a digital artist, photographer, lawyer and animal activist. She spent several years working as a lawyer (criminal prosecutor) before pursuing her love of art and photography full time. She has participated in a number of group art exhibitions since 2008 and has obtained a number of acceptances in National competitions for her photography.

She began studying a Masters at COFA (UNSW) in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design in 2010. She hopes to incorporate the knowledge gained in applying cross-disciplinary practices involving art with her activism in animal welfare issues.

In June 2011 a private law firm, Lawyers for Companion Animals, was established in NSW. The intended primary purpose of this firm is to make submissions to government and government agencies, provide pro-bono information and, to a lesser extent, advice and advocacy, on companion Animal Law and companion Animal Law related issues.


The following links provide further information to the issues explored in my image: