PARIS — Man’s best friend could be one of the environment’s
worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon
pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guz-
zling 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.
The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victo-
ria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of
pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around
164kg of meat and 95kg of cereal a year.
With the land required to generate its food, a “medium”
sized dog has an annual foot- print of 0.84 hectares (8,400
square metres) — around twice the 0.41 hectares required by
a four-wheel drive travelling 10,000km a year, including en-
ergy to build it.
To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to cal-
culate 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,” Mr Barrett said.
Cats have an eco-footprint almost equivalent to 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
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,” said Ms Huttin. “I walk instead of using my car and I don’t eat meat, so why shouldn’t I be allowed to have a little cat to alleviate my loneliness?”
Sylvie Comont, owner of seven cats and two dogs — the environmental equivalent of a small fleet of cars — said: “I don’t feel like a polluter at all”. However, solutions exist, including reducing pets’ protein- rich meat intake.