Breeder pleads guilty to puppy farm charges

A dog breeder has pleaded guilty to 115 charges under new laws designed to stamp out puppy farming in Victoria.

In the Dandenong Magistrates Court on Thursday, Derul Van Hollis and his company Demfield Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to running an unregistered breeding business and failing to comply with the code of practice for breeding and rearing establishments.

The prosecution, by Casey Council, was the first brought under "Oscar's law", named after a puppy rescued from a dog-breeding factory in central Victoria in 2011.

Magistrate Brian Barrow blocked a media request for access to the brief of evidence, after counsel for the council, Brett Melke, argued that although the defendant had pleaded guilty, a substantial number of issues were still in dispute.

Mr Melke said the council would seek to have Mr Van Hollis and his company prohibited from keeping or selling dogs, a key feature of Oscar's law.

The case already has been adjourned twice and Mr Barrow granted counsel for Mr Van Hollis, David Starvaggi, a further adjournment, to February 28, when the evidence will be presented.

Representatives of the Animal Cruelty Hotline were in court to observe the case.

Investigator Barry Tapp, a former inspector with the RSPCA, said Casey Council was leading Victoria in bringing prosecutions for animal cruelty instead of waiting for the RSPCA to act.

"It's the most innovative council in Victoria in that regard," Mr Tapp said. "It's their locality and they know what's going on. They are setting the standard. We're trying to convince other councils to follow their lead."

Last month council officers, police and RSPCA inspectors raided another dog-breeding business, in Narre Warren.

A spokeswoman for the council said inquiries were continuing and it was possible charges would be laid.

Several other breeding establishments are also being investigated.

The story Breeder pleads guilty to puppy farm charges first appeared on The Age.

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