CLCs on the frontline: Animal Law Institute

March 19, 2021 |

Community lawyers are responding to a COVID surge in demand for pets with an innovative legal clinic designed to seek justice against dodgy breeders.

The Animal Law Institute recently launched its Anti-Puppy Farm Legal Clinic last month and is already experiencing a high level of demand from families who were sold puppies or kittens, which later turned out to be sick.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a big increase in the number of people buying puppies and kittens in Victoria. As a result, demand and prices for animals, particularly 'designer’ breeds has skyrocketed.

Unscrupulous individuals are seeking to make money from this situation by breeding as many animals as possible, often subjecting animals to inhuman conditions and misrepresenting themselves to buyers. This is known as 'puppy farming'.

Puppy farming is not a legally defined term, but typically refers to large, for-profit breeding operations that keep animals in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions which fail to provide proper care.

Poor breeding practices can lead to a variety of health problems in both adult breeding dogs and their offspring. Puppies that at first glance appear healthy can present with serious health issues after they leave the breeder and are sold to pet stores, pet brokers or directly to the public. 

The Animal Law Institute's work in this area of law began a number of years ago when they took on ‘Nala’s Case’. In 2018, the legal team initiated proceedings in VCAT against breeders of a beagle-cross named Nala, who as a puppy was so severely infested with worms and emaciated that she almost died and will require special care for the rest of her life.

The Animal Law Institute demonstrated that these health conditions were passed from the breeding mother dog onto Nala, in-utero. Ultimately, the clients were successful, and Nala’s breeders were ordered to pay over $15,000 for past and future medical expenses.

This important work is assisting pet owners and their families while also increasing accountability for breeders.

Visit to find out more or access the Anti-Puppy Farm Legal Clinic. ALI’s clinic is supported by the Victorian Government.

Visit for more information about the Animal Law Institute.

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