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  1. #1

    Wink and we thought cows were bad

    Polluting pets: the devastating impact of man's best friend
    by Isabelle Toussaint and Jurgen Hecker Isabelle Toussaint And Jurgen Hecker Sun Dec 20, 3:23 pm ET

    PARIS (AFP) – Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon paw print of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

    But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.

    The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.

    Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.

    To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.

    "Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.

    Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.

    Cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares, slightly less than driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year, while two hamsters equates to a plasma television and even the humble goldfish burns energy equivalent to two mobile telephones.

    But Reha Huttin, president of France's 30 Million Friends animal rights foundation says the human impact of eliminating pets would be equally devastating.

    "Pets are anti-depressants, they help us cope with stress, they are good for the elderly," Huttin told AFP.

    "Everyone should work out their own environmental impact. I should be allowed to say that I walk instead of using my car and that I don't eat meat, so why shouldn't I be allowed to have a little cat to alleviate my loneliness?"

    Sylvie Comont, proud owner of seven cats and two dogs -- the environmental equivalent of a small fleet of cars -- says defiantly, "Our animals give us so much that I don't feel like a polluter at all.

    "I think the love we have for our animals and what they contribute to our lives outweighs the environmental considerations.

    "I don't want a life without animals," she told AFP.

    And pets' environmental impact is not limited to their carbon footprint, as cats and dogs devastate wildlife, spread disease and pollute waterways, the Vales say.

    With a total 7.7 million cats in Britain, more than 188 million wild animals are hunted, killed and eaten by feline predators per year, or an average 25 birds, mammals and frogs per cat, according to figures in the New Scientist.

    Likewise, dogs decrease biodiversity in areas they are walked, while their feces cause high bacterial levels in rivers and streams, making the water unsafe to drink, starving waterways of oxygen and killing aquatic life.

    And cat poo can be even more toxic than doggy doo -- owners who flush their litter down the toilet ultimately infect sea otters and other animals with toxoplasma gondii, which causes a killer brain disease.

    But despite the apocalyptic visions of domesticated animals' environmental impact, solutions exist, including reducing pets' protein-rich meat intake.

    "If pussy is scoffing 'Fancy Feast' -- or some other food made from choice cuts of meat -- then the relative impact is likely to be high," said Robert Vale.

    "If, on the other hand, the cat is fed on fish heads and other leftovers from the fishmonger, the impact will be lower."

    Other potential positive steps include avoiding walking your dog in wildlife-rich areas and keeping your cat indoors at night when it has a particular thirst for other, smaller animals' blood.

    As with buying a car, humans are also encouraged to take the environmental impact of their future possession/companion into account.

    But the best way of compensating for that paw or clawprint is to make sure your animal is dual purpose, the Vales urge. Get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs, or a rabbit, prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table.

    "Rabbits are good, provided you eat them," said Robert Vale.
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  2. #2
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    so if I ditch 2 cellphones I can get 2 goldfish...aight! Got it....
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alagirl View Post
    so if I ditch 2 cellphones I can get 2 goldfish...aight! Got it....
    rabbit...the other white (pet) meat
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post
    rabbit...the other white (pet) meat

    Mama's wittle baby woves wabbit wabbit
    Mama's wittle baby woves wabbit stew

    I'd love to see how they arrive at such numbers - how many acres does it take to feed a human - not to mention my dogs happily rode in the truck, but never alone...I am sure I got that all wrong tho....
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post
    <snip>
    But the best way of compensating for that paw or clawprint is to make sure your animal is dual purpose, the Vales urge. Get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs, or a rabbit, prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table.

    "Rabbits are good, provided you eat them," said Robert Vale.

    Since I am doing everything wrong - even feeding Fancy Feast - I guess I will have to eat my cats and dogs when their time comes. Anyone have any good recipes? Good thing they will have been so well fed.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcw579 View Post
    Since I am doing everything wrong - even feeding Fancy Feast - I guess I will have to eat my cats and dogs when their time comes. Anyone have any good recipes? Good thing they will have been so well fed.
    stew and BBQ is always a winner
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  7. #7
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    So, am I better off if I feed my dogs that cheap dog food that's mostly corn?
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.



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    To Hades with the environmentalists - I'm putting my dogs on a raw diet.



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    My cat just farted in Al Gore's general direction



  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by lcw579 View Post
    Since I am doing everything wrong - even feeding Fancy Feast - I guess I will have to eat my cats and dogs when their time comes. Anyone have any good recipes? Good thing they will have been so well fed.
    I have Pugs. At least I really like Chinese food.
    http://www.tbhsa.com/index.html

    Originally Posted by JSwan
    I love feral children. They taste like chicken.



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    Quote Originally Posted by gieriscm View Post
    To Hades with the environmentalists - I'm putting my dogs on a raw diet.
    raw diet is more sustainable than packaged dog food, provided you pasture raise rabbits. They produce fast enough to provide a healthy raw diet for most canines or felines for that matter with a relatively low environmental footprint.
    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarkspurCO View Post
    My cat just farted in Al Gore's general direction
    "I fart in your general direction" Just picturing your cat saying this with a French accent.

    I think I will work on other things to lower my own carbon foot print. I am not giving up my animals. And I am certainly not eating them Although I have threatened the goat a time or 2. I keep telling her that she is lucky that I am mostly vegetarian



  13. #13
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    My neighbors let their dogs leave "carbon footprints" in my yard quite often...
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!



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    Anyone have any good bosingtang recipes?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Alagirl View Post
    Mama's wittle baby woves wabbit wabbit
    Mama's wittle baby woves wabbit stew

    I'd love to see how they arrive at such numbers - how many acres does it take to feed a human - not to mention my dogs happily rode in the truck, but never alone...I am sure I got that all wrong tho....
    Me too. I'd like to know what formula they used to decide that say (purely an example for illustration that I made up in my head, not the data stated) "100 kilos of Science Diet lamb & rice formula has 60 kilos of meat and 40 kilos of cereal" etc.
    Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
    Sam: A job? Does it pay?
    Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
    Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcw579 View Post
    I guess I will have to eat my cats and dogs when their time comes. Anyone have any good recipes? Good thing they will have been so well fed.
    Lcw, you have an IM.



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    <Sylvie Comont, proud owner of seven cats and two dogs -- the environmental equivalent of a small fleet of cars -- >

    If 7 cats and 2 dogs is a small fleet then I have an international army......



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    Science Diet? Sheesh. Outside of a few select, already animal- and environmentally-conscious people, who can afford to feed that? I'd imagine that those who most contribute to this "problem" are using low quality dog food that ironically, probably has a lower footprint.

    Whoops.

    However, my dogs are happily feasting on remnants of the deer from hunting season that my husband butchered out... if that's a carbon footprint, I blame the deer.



  19. #19
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    What's next on the "too polluting" list? I think its moving up a list here. We'll break it to them slowly, first the pets, then farting cows (methane), then..
    Soilent green anyone?
    What kind of people come up with this stuff anyway? Malthus anyone? Yuck, I sure don't want to hang out with the authors of those publications.



  20. #20
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    Thanks, Tamara. I needed a chuckle this morning. These studies are just too much.



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