AN ANIMAL activist fears a Coimadai property is being used to illegally breed and sell "pigging dogs" with live piglets being used as bait.
Animal rights campaigner Debra Tranter, who secretly visited the property after a tip-off, claimed litters of staghound-cross puppies were being kept in small wire cages with mature dogs chained to caravans.
Moorabool Council and the RSPCA have visited the property and are investigating the claims.
Ms Tranter said she found a dead dog, believed to be a Staffordshire terrier, on the property but could not find any wounds or bullet marks.
She said the property owner was advertising and selling "hunting" puppies online, and she provided the Weekly and the council with evidence of this.
Ms Tranter said there was a horde of wild pigs and piglets being kept in a small hut, many riddled with open wounds and shredded ears.
"I am very, very concerned about what is happening to these pigs," she said.
"These pigs are clearly not being used for food or to sell to slaughterhouses. People don't usually breed and sell wild pigs.
"These pigs had battle wounds, many with shredded, bloody and infected ears and one had its whole ear ripped off."
Ms Tranter said she believed the feral pigs were being used to train hunting dogs, with pups taught to latch on to the pigs' ears and rip them to the ground.
Council spokesman Peter Forbes said the property could be in breach of local permit conditions and state laws governing animal management.
He confirmed council officers had visited the property more than once and found 28 dogs, but the owner could not be contacted.
Mr Forbes said the owner had a planning permit, obtained in June 2008, to keep 15 dogs.
"If found to be non-compliant, appropriate action will be taken," he said.
RSPCA spokeswoman Kristen Vear confirmed the organisation had assisted council's compliance officers on a visit to the property and that 28 dogs were found on site. She said the RSPCA has visited the site once before, in 2009.
"[Our] role in this particular case was to ensure the welfare of the animals and investigate any breaches to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," she said.
"Moorabool Council will be following up any code of practice violations under the Domestic Animals Act."
She said no cruelty charges had been laid, but the RSPCA's investigation was continuing.
The property's owner, who asked not to be named, told the Weekly he took in unwanted dogs to be rehoused and only bred a litter once a year.
He said the 28 dogs which the RSPCA counted included dogs owned by friends who were visiting from NSW.
"I have a permit to have 15 dogs. All of our dogs are in good health and we rehome unwanted dogs," he said. "I teach them obedience. Our pigs are used for our own consumption."
Last year, the RSPCA’s NSW branch launched a public campaign condemning wild pig hunts using dogs after the Game Council of NSW called for expressions of interest from ‘‘suitable hunters’’ to take part in a trial using dogs to hunt feral pigs in state forests.
The NSW Greens labelled it a “blood sport.”
The RSPCA warned pigs could suffer ‘‘considerable’’ pain in the jaws of the dogs, and that dogs could suffer injuries from wild boars’ tusks.