The operator of a Point Cook “kitten factory” has been banned from breeding domestic animals for a decade and ordered to pay $32,000 in fines and costs.
Kevin Cheng was found guilty of breaching the Domestic Animals Act 1994 in the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
He was fined $5000 and ordered to pay $27,000 of council costs.
A Wyndham council spokesman said the sentence followed a protracted legal battle between Cheng and the council.
The spokesman said Cheng’s property was inspected following a tip-off in February last year. Rangers discovered more than 70 Bengal cats were kept at the property for breeding purposes.
The council seized 20 adult cats and 52 kittens. Bengal kittens sell for between $1000 and $3000 each.
Wyndham’s director of city transformation, Steven Lambert, said 30 of the cats seized were in such poor health they needed to be euthanised. Of the kittens seized, 42 have been treated and rehomed.
Mr Lambert this week said the council believed the court-imposed fine did not match the severity of Cheng’s crimes.
“This is the worst example of a kitten factory that Wyndham has ever seen.
“Considering that the maximum fine available to the magistrate in this case was more than $430,000, council is disappointed that a fine of just $5000 was issued,” Mr Lambert said.
He said it was the responsibility of every pet owner to ensure they are providing adequate care to their animals and it is “simply unacceptable” that any animal would be placed in this kind of situation.
“I would like to congratulate the Wyndham staff that worked extremely hard to have this kitten factory shut down. The surviving cats have all been rehomed, which is a silver lining to this situation.”
Nathan Miles, founder of the Western Suburbs Cat Rescue, said he too was disappointed with the leniency of the court’s sentencing.
“We had hoped for a much harsher penalty, including a ban on owning any cats … These poor cats suffered all in the name of greed and profit. Some of the cats required veterinary attention and treatment, some … had to have their eyes surgically removed due to severe infections.”
“Unethical and illegal backyard breeders who operate kitten factories have no place in Victoria and are just as vile and disgusting as puppy farms,” Mr Miles said.