My neighborhood is full of people who drive Priuses to haul their Labrador Retrievers to the park for a run. According to two New Zealand researchers, the beloved pet they are hauling has twice the carbon footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser. The three cats at home? Each of them mucks up the environment about as much as a compact car. The conclusion the two drew is clear in the title of their new book, Time To Eat the Dog.
As reported in the New Scientist, the researchers, Robert and Brenda Vale of Victoria University of Wellington, based their conclusions on the ecological impact of the food pets consume. To grow the meat and grain needed for a dog's diet leaves a carbon footprint of 2.7 acres. A large dog, they estimated, gobbles up around a pound of meat a day and well as over half a pound of grain.
They determined that even a goldfish leaves a footprint of 36 square feet, quite a feat for a footless creature. Adding together the domestic cat population of the ten largest feline-friendly nations, they concluded that it takes 154,400 square mile of agricultural land just to support them. And their calculations apparently didn't include the acreage of cat litter that we (I) dispose of annually.
How do the authors suggest dealing with this eco-condundrum? Shared pets is one of their ideas. When you need a kitty fix, go pet the one at the book store. For those who absolutely MUST a pet at home (I just raised my hand) they suggest choosing one that contributes to the household, such as a chicken, which provides eggs for the table, or a rabbit, which provides, err, rabbits.
With such cold-blooded suggestions, these people would never make it out of my neighborhood alive.
Your pet has a bigger carbon footprint than your car?