Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

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Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby Tracker » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:41 pm

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I spotted an article in a Pet's Magazine, where they made reference to NZ researchers, who had painstakingly calculated the eco-Footprint of Dogs and Cats and Pets in general.

A MEDIUM size dog, needed slightly more than two acres of land to produce the 165Kg of meat and 95Kg of grain, that they consumed each year.

In contrast less than half that land was needed to power a SUV driven a modest 16000Km/Yr.
( Eh! - Ummmm - SUV's run on grass now??? ) anyway..

Larger dogs would leave a bigger footprint, whilst cats have a relatively small one of 1/3rd acre..

So the only solution - save the Planet and Eat Your Dog !
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby taggertycyclist » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:51 pm

Well you might jest, but I find pet ownership to be somewhat abhorrent based on this:

a) Walk down the supermarket shelves and you will find an entire aisle dedicated to pet food. If the same energy was put into feeding that stuff to human, we'd all be a lot better off. But then a huge industry worth billions a year wouldn't be an industry anyumore, would it?

b) The environmentalists whine about how the seas are being raped of fish stocks, but omit to say that the vast majority of an important mid-level species in the foodchain, the pilchard, is destined for cat food.

c) When was the last time you saw any decent population of small Australian marsupials within an urban area.. or even things like frogs? The virtually uncontrolled proliferation of domesticated pets such as cats (in particular) and dogs, and especially those that haven't been desexed, has resulted in feral beasts that have become the scourge of Australian native species. I remember a well-known evening announcer on ABC radio getting all excited about how his dog had torn apart a possum. Getting rid of cats and dogs like that (and maybe even announcers like him) would be a great start.
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d) The authorities have deemed that you are able to keep all these nasty little environmentally damaging animals, yet you are not permitted to keep any Australian wildlife as pets unless you have a permit. Oh yes, you have to have a licence in many cases to keep dogs, and maybe cats, but that's about it, and that is a tax-raising measure anyway. But with some Australian species under threat, we aren't permitted to keep them in domestic situations.

e) People go troppo whenever a cat or dog is run over in the suburban environment, but the native wildlife is fair game for just about any driver on the country roads in Australia. The Maroondah Highway is testament with the bodies of large wombats littering the roadsides -- but at least the wombies have revenge in some cases with extensive bodywork and suspension damage. There is a road to Fingal in Tasmania that has a reputation for having bodies every 50 metres -- I know, because I have ridden a bicycle through the stench and seen it for myself.

Sooo, tell me, if the environment is so important to everyone, why is it that we have this attitude that domesticated pets are OK, but our wildlife, unique in the world, is something to be despised?

Oh, and your little dig about SUVs running on grass... the price of sugar is expected to rise quite substantially because of competition for it from alternative fuel refineries. I'm sure I can get sugar cane to be classified as a big grass plant...
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby Tracker » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:25 pm

taggertycyclist wrote:but omit to say that the vast majority of an important mid-level species in the foodchain, the pilchard, is destined for cat food.


And - they now know that the humble pilchard is far more important than anyone ever thought.
It's existence virtually determines how the rest of the marine ecology fairs.... being the most important part of the food chain. Decimate them for pet food and your likely to destroy many other species.

I do have a cat.. When he goes, there will not be another. He has spent his life locked in the house, to the point that he wants to play with birds - like injured Rosella's etc. that I have a habit of finding.

I agree with every point that you make.
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby kalindriel » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:37 pm

I think that it might be a trifle unfair to use such a broad brush to tar the cats and dogs - and their owners across the board. I am a cat owner. When he goes there will be another. I like to think of myself as a responsible pet owner, I once managed to convince him to kill a couple of rats living in my roof, but i've never seen him take out any other wildlife. (not to say he hasnt.)

I suppose you are being deliberately inflammatory, but the obvious response is that kids and people in general are much worse for the environment than cats and dogs. Not only do we engage in land clearing and highway driving, and massive reproduction, but theoretically we introduced the cats and dogs in the first place, which really makes the whole thing the fault of people rather than their pets.

Surely if you are against pets on the grounds you have outlined, you have to be against having children. And if you are against pets or children on those grounds, surely you must be philosophically opposed to your own continued existence.

Licences are required to keep native animals to protect them and to ensure that they remain WILDlife, rather than in house curios.

Yes, pets require a use of resources, but in light of the other uses of resources that people invest in - the baby aisle, the shampoo and deodorant aisle, the miscellanous things you can get for your car/ bike/ computer aisle - I suspect that getting all worked up about pets might be missing the bigger picture.

And for some of us, pets are very cost and resource effective companions. Plenty of company, significantly fewer emissions - far fewer than another standard issue human. (Also they cant leave the room when you talk to them about solar panels for a solid hour without stopping for air or a response... ;) )
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby munter » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:25 pm

While I'm generally on the side on those suggesting a review of the resources that get put into pets I did see it written somewhere that much of the dog petfood was actually produced from scraps and by-products of the meat industry and that to dedicate the full "emissions" for this meat to pets wasn't exactly a fair assignment.
http://renovations08.blogspot.com/ - my energy efficiency blog
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby zzsstt » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:52 am

I have two dogs, they drink rainwater captured from the roof of their house (like the rest of the household) and eat the bits of animals that the human members of the household do not find appetising. Any vegetable portion of their diet they harvest for themselves, as and when they see fit.

On top of that, they live on-site, work hard and do not require heating, lighting, petrol or in fact anything very much. If I did not have them, I would have to employ two guys on motorbikes, who would have a far bigger "footprint"....

As far as wildlife goes, I suspect that pets are quite deliberately given too much "credit" for killing wildlife (I'm talking urban pets here, not ferals). I find it amusing that we humans cut down every tree for miles, build an enormous housing development and then suggest that pet cats are the reason why there are no possums! I had a house overlooking Sydney harbour, and I had two cats. I had a neighbour who was rabidly anti-cat, my cats apparently would spell the end of every other animal that lived in the area. I had that house for three years, and through all that time a possum lived in my pool shed and raised it's young without a problem, and we had bluetongues and various other animals and birds living peacefully in the garden. My neighbour, on the other hand, cut down all the large trees in her garden to improve her water views.......

taggertycyclist wrote:Sooo, tell me, if the environment is so important to everyone, why is it that we have this attitude that domesticated pets are OK, but our wildlife, unique in the world, is something to be despised?


As I have said many times, "we" are not really interested in the environment. It is merely a fashionable thing to say. "We" say we are concerned, and then every day we import new types of plant to look good in peoples gardens, when we know that even an Australian plant taken to a different area can become a pest very quickly. We muck about with the genetics of plants with no idea what impact this will have in the longer term, because it might make us a profit today. We import new species of animals to provide "biological control" of pest plants that we imported a few years ago, relying on a few tests in laboratories to ensure that these new animals will themselves never become a problem - and we believe that this small amount of testing can somehow duplicate natures infinite combinations and an animals in-built mission to adapt and survive.

Our wildlife is not despised. If a roo is hit by a car it is not because the driver despised the roo, it is because the roo jumped in to the cars path. If a cyclist hit a pedestrian, is it an accident or does the cyclist despise the pedestrian?

The same applies to any management of animals, native or otherwise. I, at my own expense, provide food for a large number of roo's, deer, rabbits and other animals feral, native or domestic. There comes a point, however, when the expense of doing this becomes too great, or my domestic animals start to suffer because the "non-productive" animals become too numerous. At this point I "manage" them. I do not despise them, and in fact where possible I try to make use of them even after they have been "managed". We sometimes have friends up from the city, who express concern about the future of our native animals. They seem to base their estimations of roo populations on the number of roo's that they see when commuting between Rose Bay and the CBD. Some are also fanatically anti-bullbar. I find it amusing to send them to town around dusk to buy some extra beer.......it is a rapid cure for both anti-bullbar and "low roo population" beliefs! Mind you, a deer bouncing off the front of the car does more damage than a roo....
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby taggertycyclist » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:05 pm

you're talking about working dogs, which are somewhat different to pets, especially those that are fashion accessories, or worse, bred to fit an image of aggression and dominance.

I think in all my years, I have seen only one driver stop to tend to a native animal that his car has hit, and that was only months ago. The rest of the time, if they do stop, is to despise the animal for causing damage to their vehicle and losing their no-claim bonus. Yet domesticated animals are rushed off to the vet for expensive surgery to try to save them after being hit by a vehicle.

I am sure there will always be people who behold their pets as models in society and likely justifiably so, even though they are a minority. Yet they admit at the same time that they couldn't care less about the native fauna... after all, where do most feral animals come from?

Incidentally, my vehicle doesn't have a bull bar, yet I live country and do a fair bit of night driving, and have never needed one. In fact, the only vehicle that had a bullbar was a Rangie, and it was never called into use, either.

Oh and yes, the cyclist would likely despise the pedestrian for not being aware that there are other road users apart from the cardines, and for putting the cyclist's life at risk by ignoring the road laws.
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby zzsstt » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:27 am

Whether a bullbar is ever "used" is largely a question of luck. My ute has a bar, and it has never been called in to use, the same applies to all my previous rural vehicles. However my neighbour was unlucky enough to hit a roo in the week between picking up his new vehicle and the appointment to have a bar fitted (he has never hit anything before or since!). I live 17Km from town, and in the first 11km of that drive there is an animal hit almost every day, normally the distribution is fairly even between roo's, foxes and deer, with a pig about once a year. It is not a particularly major road!

Around this area it seems to be normal to stop to check any roo that is hit. Whilst it is not normal for adult animals to be treated, they are not left to suffer and any young are normally taken to WIRES or humanely despatched.
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby Tracker » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:17 am

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I think that I started something, in reporting the research into the ECO footprint of pet ownership.

I must say that there is a great deal of self-benefit in pet ownership, especially for the elderly, for whom their pet is about the only reason for living.

I would question why someone would want to own a great-dane, and then have to feed it. That is self indulgent and a gross waste of resources.
We will not replace our cat when he goes, but only because we don't want another 15 years of finding someone to look after the cat.

I am not sure that we need get too hung up on native animals that are killed on our roads, as it has no real relevance to the issue of pet-ownership, and in reality, there is bugger-all we can do about it except spend mega bucks erecting animal fencing along all roads, and animal underpasses every hundred meters.
So if one gets hung up on the cost of pet-food, because of the masses that could have been fed with those resources, then one would have to agree that spending squllions on native animal protection, would feed even more of the world's poor.

It is interesting that in Tasmania, you do see large numbers of dead animals, buy that is partly because you are not allowed to touch them.
They contract out, the right/responsibility to collect road-kill. I suspect that the result is that more are just left to rot. A dead roo would likely be grabbed by a passing farmer, the morning that it was dropped, to feed his dogs ! Once decay sets in, no one want it ! So how senseless is that ?
I would fear that in Tassie, if I stopped, some jerk would dob me in for stealing Road-Kill.

taggertycyclist wrote:I think in all my years, I have seen only one driver stop to tend to a native animal that his car has hit, and that was only months ago.


I don't know what I would do if I saw a roo, squirming on the road-side. (Not that I have ever seen one)
If you stop, then you become responsible. So, what would I do ?
Blood everywhere... Kicking and thrashing... How do I help it - I have no gun.... I have a pen-knife? There are big rocks..
I smash it's head in with a rock and someone dobs me in for animal cruelty, because I should have taken it to a vet.
There are people who have gone to jail, for animal cruelty, because of a wrong decision.
They thought it more humane to dispatch an orphaned baby animal, than to leave it to die.
Is there any wonder, why most people would prefer to just drive off ?
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Re: Are you REALLY Green?...Save the planet - Eat your Dog !

Postby zzsstt » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:58 am

Tracker wrote:I think that I started something, in reporting the research into the ECO footprint of pet ownership.


I suspect you'd find that the research was by an organisation like PETA who have an axe to grind. It has become the norm for fringe groups to utilise eco-paranoia to push their own agendas.

Tracker wrote:I am not sure that we need get too hung up on native animals that are killed on our roads, as it has no real relevance to the issue of pet-ownership, and in reality, there is bugger-all we can do about it except spend mega bucks erecting animal fencing along all roads, and animal underpasses every hundred meters.


Unfortunately many of these things don't work. We tried fences with "wombat gates", but most of the time the animals picked where they wanted to cross and made their own - even if the wombat gate was made where they had previously created their own "gate", they often then went somewhere else and made a new one! The damage done to fences is the main issue with native animals anyway.


Tracker wrote:I don't know what I would do if I saw a roo, squirming on the road-side. (Not that I have ever seen one). If you stop, then you become responsible. So, what would I do ?
Blood everywhere... Kicking and thrashing... How do I help it - I have no gun.... I have a pen-knife? There are big rocks..I smash it's head in with a rock and someone dobs me in for animal cruelty, because I should have taken it to a vet.
There are people who have gone to jail, for animal cruelty, because of a wrong decision. They thought it more humane to dispatch an orphaned baby animal, than to leave it to die. Is there any wonder, why most people would prefer to just drive off ?


Much legislation is counter productive in the real world. It's because it's largely written by people in offices who have no knowledge or experience of the subject at hand, and much is written to appease a minority group or grab votes.

An adult roo that is thrashing about is a dangerous problem, best solved with a rifle. Don't try a pen knife! Mostly they lie quite still (in shock, I imagine), at which time the tyre iron can be used if you don't have a rifle to hand.... Then check the pouch and surrounding area for young, which can be taken to WIRES or despatched. In the interests of safety, and if it can be done without endangering yourself, I believe it is best to drag the carcase off the road. It is not uncommon for a large roo or deer corpse to cause further accidents as people either hit it in the dark or try to avoid it. This brings up another point, being that more people are injured trying to avoid collisions with roos than actually hitting them. Sorry if it causes any offence, but the safest course for the humans is to fit a substantial bullbar*, and take the hit.

*I am talking about vehicles used mostly in the country, not "soccer mum" 4WDs that never see dirt.

Personally I think pet ownership can be very beneficial. We have largely removed the link between people and animals (of any description), so many city kids (and adults) have no idea about animals in general. Pets can to some extent recreate some of that link for kids, and has been mentioned can provide comfort to the elderly and infirm. Most pet food is made from products not suitable for human consumption, in the same way that "feed grade" grain would not be used in your muesli, so would otherwise largely be wasted in terms of consumption.
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