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Oscar’s Law: Do Laws Like This Really Help?

A woman approached me the other day after class, saying she’d noticed the animal rights stuff on my website ( She told me, “I’m into animal welfare too!”

Before I could explain to her that animal rights and animal welfare are not even close to the same thing, she launched into how she supported Oscar’s Law. If you’re not Australian, you might not be familiar with this campaign. You can search the Internet to get more details but, in brief, Oscar’s Law aims to abolish puppy mills and stop the selling of companion animals in petshops and online. Sounds good, right? Well, yes and no.

What's The Problem With Oscar's Law?

I have no argument with shutting down puppy mills, or stopping the selling of companion animals in petshops or online. But what Oscar's Law fails to tackle is all the backyard breeders and the professional breeders. In other words, Oscar's Law only deals with a very small part of a bigger problem.

You see, while the appalling conditions of puppy mills are an outrage, they are not the heart of the problem. And while making companion animals into impulse items by ‘stocking’ them in petshops or trading them like trinkets online is disgraceful, it's also not the heart of the problem. They are problems, I don’t deny it - and they're problems we should most definitely address; but they remain only part of the problem, not the heart of the problem.

So then what is the heart of the problem? Well, it's the fact that we breed companion animals at all.


You might find that an odd thing for me to say. I mean, if I’m against the breeding of companion animals, why in the world do I have this Dog Blog and why did I write Little Dog In A Big City? Seems contradictory, right? Wrong.

Let me explain.

While we should stop (and I do mean STOP, not reduce) breeding companion animals, we must (and I do mean MUST) look after the ones who are already here. Hence my Dog Blog and Little Dog In A Big City. They're my way of trying to help the dogs who are already around. And trying to help existing dogs doesn't in any way contradict my firm conviction that we should not have companion animals in the first place. That's something I won't discuss here, as I address it on my other website. Click on the following links if you'd like to read more on this topic:

Back To Oscar's Law...

Okay, with that clarified, let's get back to Oscar’s Law.

Oscar’s Law lambasts conditions in puppy mills, and the immorality of selling animals as commodities in petshops and online, but says nothing of the fact (and it is a fact) that backyard breeders and professional breeders are just as much a part of the problem too. Further, Oscar's Law doesn't even touch upon the issue of animals as chattel property.

Here are some facts to consider:

  • Fact 1: There’s an overpopulation of companion animals, and this is our fault.

  • Fact 2: Many of these companion animals are homeless, and their homelessness is also our fault.

  • Fact 3: We are the only ones who can fix this mess we’ve created.

That automatically leads to the question: HOW do we fix this mess we’ve created? Answer: by not treating animals as commodities. This means:

  • Stop breeding companion animals in any way and for any reason.

  • Adopting as many homeless animals as we can (and fostering if we can’t adopt).

How Dare I?

How could I - someone who professes to love love love dogs - say that we should stop breeding dogs?

Am I suffering from temporary insanity? Have I taken hallucinogenic drugs?  No and no. I can make this (seemingly outlandish) statement because I’m speaking from my head, not from my heart.

In my heart, I adore dogs and always want them to be around. In my head, I know that’s selfish. Dogs (and all other companion animals, for that matter) are wholly at our mercy. They depend on us for everything - like a human baby would, except that companion animals never grow up and leave home. They’re legally our property, and have no true rights. The situation is disgraceful, and we must put an end to it. And while putting an end to having companion animals will be sad for us, it's the morally right thing to do.

For more on this topic, please read my Animals As Companions articles and Animals As Companions Q&A.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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