The Latest Advice From the Eco-Zealots: Eat Your Pets

I was all set to take my dogs out for quality time in the park, taking full advantage of the snow that’s blanketed the Northeast — but now the dogs will have to wait until I finish this piece, a response to an article in Agence France-Presse identifying man’s best friend as “one of the environment’s worst enemies.”

So, once again, pets are a conveniently silent scapegoat for the ills of modern living.

In their unfortunately titled book Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale

— self-described specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University in Wellington — charge that the carbon paw-print of a pet dog is double that of an SUV driving 6,200 miles a year, while a pet cat has an eco claw-print slightly less than driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year.

Confirming these results, John Barrett of the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, said, “Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance.” Pets’ detrimental impact on the environment is not limited to their carbon footprint, the Vales insist;

if permitted to roam, predatory dogs and cats devastate wildlife (squirrels, birds, frogs) while their fecal matter spreads bacteria and disease in rivers and streams, killing aquatic life.

What about the tons of chemicals poured into the environment every day by completely non-pet-related individuals and entities? If you happen to live in a city affected by Sunday’s blizzard, such as my home town of New York, you may notice the sidewalks and roads paved with ice-melting crystals.

This toxic chemical “salt” may prevent pedestrians from slipping and vehicles from hydroplaning, but it’s corrosive enough to eat away at metal and poses serious health hazards to people, especially children, if ingested or splashed in the eyes.

It also harms the environment by burning lawns and plants and contaminating well and drinking water supplies.