Time to trim Fido's "eco pawprint", authors say

Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:01am EDT
 
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By Gillian Murdoch

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - They're faithful, friendly and furry -- but under their harmless, fluffy exteriors, dogs and cats, the world's most popular house pets, use up more energy resources in a year than driving a car, a new book says.

In their book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living," New Zealand-based architects Robert and Brenda Vale say keeping a medium-sized dog has the same ecological impact as driving 10,000 km (6,213 miles) a year in a 4.6 liter Land Cruiser.

Calculating that the modern Fido chows through about 164 kg of meat and 95 kg of cereals a year, the Vales estimated the ecological footprint of cats and dogs, based on the amount of land needed to grow common brands of pet food.

"There are no recipes in the book," Robert Vale told Reuters, laughingly, in a telephone interview.

"We're not actually saying it is time to eat the dog. We're just saying that we need to think about and know the (ecological) impact of some of the things we do and that we take for granted."

Constructing and driving the jeep for a year requires 0.41 hectares of land, while growing and manufacturing a dog's food takes about 0.84 ha -- or 1.1 ha in the case of a large dog such as a German shepherd.

Meat-eating swells the eco-footprint of canines, and felines are not that much better, the Vales found.

The average cat's eco-footprint, 0.15 ha, weighs in at slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf, but still 10 times a hamster's 0.014 ha -- which is itself half the eco cost of running a plasma television.   Continued...