Are dogs bad for the environment??

(MYFOX NATIONAL) - Are dogs just as harmful to the environment as gas-guzzling SUVs? That's the claim by a new study from researchers in New Zealand.

AFP reports that Robert and Brenda Vale who wrote the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 360 pounds of meat and over 209 pounds of cereal a year.

The land needed to produce such food is calculated to be 2.08 acres, which is more than twice the 1.01 acres needed to create enough energy to build a Toyota Land Cruiser. But because the Land Cruiser drives an average of 12,000 a year, the carbon footprint of the SUV and the dog are roughly equal.

"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, told AFP. The Vales asked the Institute to run their own calculations that compared dogs to SUVs, and it got the same result.

Cats were also found to be harmful, but their footprint was less -- about the equivalent of driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year.

But many say that the benefits of having a pet outweigh the potential harm to the environment.

"Pets are anti-depressants, they help us cope with stress, they are good for the elderly," Reha Huttin, president of France's 30 Million Friends animal rights foundation, 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?"

But the Vales said their point is there are things that can be done to limit pets' carbon footprint. "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," Robert Vale said. "If, on the other hand, the cat is fed on fish heads and other leftovers from the fishmonger, the impact will be lower."

Scientists say that cows produce 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Some farms, like Stonyfield Farms in Vermont, are starting to change the diets of cows -- from corn and soy to flaxseed and alfalfa -- to cut cow emissions.

Our Comments on this article
- Abbie 
People should keep having pets.  Pets are so helpful to us as humans i mean people are lonely and people look at pets such as dogs and it makes them feel better right away.  I dont know what the attachment is to pets but i know that they help lift you when your sad and when your happy they make  you even more happy.  So what i am saying tis that even though they hurt the environment , that maybe if we take all the other environment problems on the world and work on those because if we work on those then the world can live with pets.