MORE than 40 puppies were found housed in squalid conditions when animal activists raided a Moorabool puppy farm this week, according to the activists.Animal Liberation Victoria secretly visited the Beremboke puppy farm, owned by Les and Melinda Paxton, at Anakie on Monday night and were shocked at the "horrific" conditions.Campaign manager Debra Tranter said it was a horrible night, with puppies found in cages and chained to cars, surrounded by their own faeces and rotting meat.She said there were also pigs and piglets roaming the property, which she described as a huge derelict junk yard."The dogs have no access to water ... there were no food bowls, we filmed rotten meat thrown on the ground," she said."They were living in really unhygienic conditions."Among the dogs found were pugs, Siberian huskies and St Bernards - all of which can command a $1000 price tag.If charged with animal-cruelty offences and found guilty, the Paxtons could face fines of up to $24,000 or 24 months in jail.Last night Mr Paxton said they had done nothing wrong, and all animals were kept in clean pens with food and water bowls."How would you like someone sneaking around your place during the night taking photos?" he asked.Last week the Moorabool Shire Council denied the Paxtons a retrospective permit allowing them to run the puppy farm, after claims they had as many as 59 dogs on their property at one time.Neighbouring property owners complained about dogs escaping, excessive noise and people shooting kangaroos to feed the dogs.A report was presented to the council, written by an officer who visited the site in September 2009.It said owners did not comply with the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs, failing to provide adequate food, water and shelter.The report also revealed that several animal carcasses were found on the site, chained to cars and trees, left to rot.Ms Tranter said council should have acted faster, after witnessing the "shocking" conditions."The most upsetting thing ... is that all the authorities, both the RSPCA and council, have known about this for eight years and done nothing," she said."After they photographed dead dogs chained to trees last September they should have acted then, charged the man and seized the surviving dogs."RSPCA manager of animal services Allie Jalbert said the organisation was completely opposed to intensive puppy farms.She said RSPCA inspectors found violations of the Domestic Animals Act and Code of Practice in January 2009, which fall under the jurisdiction of the local council to investigate.At the time, she said no breaches of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts were identified.Yesterday RSPCA investigators were at the property to determine if there were any current cruelty breaches."We are also liaising with council as there are some concerns we have with respect to what the compliance officer has put into the report," Ms Jalbert said.The Moorabool Shire is seeking an enforcement order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to clean up the site.
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