VICTORIA, Australia — In northern Victoria the RSPCA, local council and police searched the Peace family’s property at Pyramid Hill in 2013. They were shocked when they found over 200 dogs, many of them sick, injured and malnourished.
The farm of horrors was owned by Dean Peace and his parents John and Phyllis who have made almost a quarter of a million dollars during the two and a half years of business.
The three operators pleaded guilty to the 240 animal welfare charges in May. Magistrate David Faram said it was difficult to imagine a “worse environment” for the dogs that could only be explained by a “total disregard for the well-being of the animals.”
Poodles, spaniels and other designer breeds were living in their own excrement, their hair was matted with feces and many were too terrified to be touched by people.
“It is in situations like this that I think the court should send the strongest possible message that a failure to properly care for animals brings with it the risk of serious punishment,” Faram stated.
The court was told that Dean Peace was a broken man who suffered devastating physical and mental injuries in two serious car crashes which resulted in a lack of capability to make day-to-day decisions.
It was also noted that John Peace was being treated for cancer and that he and his wife had tried to continue running the dog breeding business for their son’s sake.
The family has been fined $205,000 and is banned from owning dogs for 10 years, although Dean Peace is allowed to own two desexed working dogs.
Allie Jalbert of the RSPCA Victoria said she was disappointed that they are able to keep two working dogs, but said they had to respect the magistrate’s decision. Their job now is to enforce the terms of the 10 year banning order and to ensure the two dogs are properly looked after.
Jalbert also hopes that this case will be a warning sign for the community to stop unknowingly supporting puppy mills.
“The community has the strongest voice in refusing to buy dogs or puppies from online sources, newspapers or pet shops and we rely on the community to help us send the message that puppy factories will not be tolerated,” she said.
The RSPCA said the animals rescued from the Peace farm are leading “happy and healthy lives.”