Monday, March 10, 2008

Pets and the Environment

I was doing some reading and came across the fact that millions of people have pets. That made me wonder about pets and their impact on the environment. It is known that pet excrement can create harmful runoff but what about other impacts?

Food being diverted to create pet food. Packaging and transportation of pet food. Antibiotics and other drugs given to pets which are passed in their urine and into the soil. Plastic toys being discarded after use. Pets are generating the same kind of waste that we are except pet owners control the waste generated. Maybe we need to rethink our relationship with pets and try and determine the impact on the planet. Some people have advanced arguments about not having children to minimize the environmental impact. Maybe it is time to consider the same thing for pets.


Jen said...

I actually was thinking about this yesterday. In fact, I think I'm going to go make a post about it on my blog! :P

christinemm said...

I have a few things to share.

First the kittens we got from a rescue agency, born to feral cats on a city street, have been a wonderful addition to the family. They have changed my two young boys into more empathetic people which is good for the world.

Second in small ways having a pet can be more 'green' than other things we choose, such as choosing to not buy plastic toys. For dog owners, I would question the healthiness of having dogs chew on plastic toys anyway. The recent lead in paint on dog toys problem is enough of a reason to play with old cotton clothing or other more natural things, possibly re-using things like old clothes made into chew toys and tugging toys.

I'd also like to say that some of the proponents of not giving birth to human children are the same people who are sometimes big 'dog people' who go all out with things like buying clothes for the dog and lots of product-usage, who call their dogs their 'babies' and "love them" in ways not just emotional but giving them lots of material things.

Would it not be a better compromise in the two ideas for human reproduction--to adopt already born human babies to care for, and if you want a pet, to seek adoption of strays and 'unwanted' animals that already exist and are being cared for by places like town/city run 'animal shelters' and small non-profit organizations and looser 'rescue agencies'.

(My town proposed building a new dog shelter for half a million dollars to have more space for the stray dogs. The taxpayers are paying to feed and house these unwanted dogs. It is a lot of money and resources to care for thsoe unwanted dogs. For the record my town does nothing with stray cats or feral cats, they only deal with dogs.)

Something else to throw in. Some dogs and cats react badly to the corn in their pet food, which is used to stretch the food, as a filler. I think it is sad that government subsidized corn, which is cheaper than having a more meat-dense product, actually harms the health of the animal. Sad. I am talking about pets with allergies that end up scratching off all their fur and living in an itching state and getting cortisone shots from the vet to try to curb it (rather than being told to change to a non-corn food).

There is one brand of pet food, Wellness, made with no fillers and is more whole-foods based.

Lisa Allender said...

I hope you're kidding. Pets, companion animals-- these little beings are literally LIFE-savers for many(the disabled, blind, deaf, etc.) and able to light up the lives of children and the elderly, even when these groups suffer from loneliness, neglect, and abuse. They teach us how to care, to empathize. The world would be much mor toxic, without our beloved companion animals.
Peace to you.
Lisa Allender

FeButterfly said...

I'm not disputing that people enjoy their pets and find a personal benefit to their lives. However, I am trying to make a different point and have us ask serious questions. As humans we are fulfilling our wants at the expense of our home and if we are serious about saving our planet we need to evaluate every aspect of our lives. How much are we willing to give up and how far are we willing to go? Many people would drive a hybrid SUV rather than change their lifestyle. We'll recycle rather than buy less. We'll use CF light bulbs rather than being more responsible with our electricity use. We have many reasons on why we can only do a little bit.

Toni Mehraban said...

Obviously, you've never had children or pets.

FeButterfly said...

If you can explain why you think that or why you think it matters let me know.