Susie O'Brien Melbourne Herald Sun - Australia July 21, 2009 12:00am IT'S hard not to love a gorgeous dog like Buckley - just look into those big, brown puppy eyes. But one person didn't love him like he should have. In a devastating attack, someone took a pair of scissors and hacked off his tail and ears, and then left him to die in pain. A 32-year-old St Albans man has been arrested over the incident. Buckley's story has made national headlines, attracting the outrage of many thousands of animal lovers. How could someone do such a thing to a little eight-week-old puppy? But there's a hidden story of animal cruelty that isn't making the headlines, although it causes hundreds of dogs and cats to die every day. And it's one that can be fixed with the stroke of a pen. It's hard to get exact figures, but in Victoria about 300 dogs alone are put down every day. That's 2100 a week and more than 100,000 a year. Add in just as many cats, and you have an epidemic of huge proportions. Before they die, many of these animals aren't fed, cared for, or sheltered properly. Some are abused and abandoned, or used as breeders in puppy farms before being discarded when they are no longer useful. But it's not enough to ask why these animals are being put down or ill-treated. The real issue is why they are being born in the first place. You see, there's a loophole in Victoria's laws that allows pet shops and private operators to sell domestic dogs and cats that have not been desexed. However, if you get a pet from a pound or shelter it has to be desexed by law. And this all means there are too many unwanted animals ending up in the wrong hands. According to the experts, the heartbreaking case of Buckley is just one of many examples of unwanted animals being badly treated every day. The RSPCA in Victoria alone receives an astonishing 13,000 complaints of animal cruelty every year. We all want to help Buckley, but we should all want to help these other animals as well. Rescued with Love - an animal rescue and rehabilitation charity - is trying to give some of these unwanted puppies a second chance. Founder Kae Norman explains the flourishing market for unsexed animals for sale means some dogs and cats are little more than breeding machines. "The backyard breeders and puppy farms get animals that breed until they die to supply pet shops," she says. "Then they shoot them or throw them against the fence because they've got no use for them." Progress is being made in some areas. For instance, you can't buy a pet dog or cat from a Pets at Home store. Thanks to a groundbreaking arrangement with the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, customers instead adopt a desexed, vaccinated, microchipped animal. The scheme has saved an amazing 500 animals in just six months. The reality is that too many pets are being sold, and too many are either unwanted in the first place, or breeding unwanted kittens or pups. Out of 9000 dogs that are handed in to the Lost dogs Home each year, just over half are claimed by owners, and one third are put down. By law, any animal handed in by law to a pound or shelter can be kept for only 28 days. So the minute they come in the door the clock starts ticking, and time simply runs out for many gorgeous dogs and cats that would make great pets. Dr Smith has been fighting to change desexing laws for more than a decade. So why has nothing happened? Dr Smith says it's political, blaming the State Government for not wanting to make any enemies in the pet industry. "Minister Joe Helper should be renamed Mr Hopeless -- it just takes the cake," he says. Animal industry insiders say it all comes down to money. A blanket ban on the sale of cats and dogs who aren't desexed will certainly cut down the profit margins for dog breeders and suburban pet stores. It will make animals more expensive to buy. But this is not a bad thing. At the moment pure-bred puppies sell for $600 or more and mixed breeds anywhere from $150 or so. Compulsory desexing would add a couple of hundred dollars to their sale price. Perhaps it will make pet owners think twice before picking up a puppy like a pair of jeans on a whim. It's too late to spare Buckley's pain, but maybe it will help the next poor puppy from living a short life of misery. Animals who aren't wanted shouldn't be born in the first place. And it's about time the State Government took action.