Tastes Like Chicken, Only Cuddlier


Last week, I noted how eliminating meat from your diet can help fight global warming. This week brings another installment of “Simple, Stupid Steps to Save the Planet:” Get rid of Toto!

A New Zealand study claims a medium-size dog leaves a larger ecological footprint than an SUV. The Seattle Times (hat tip to longtime friend, Planet Gore reader, and Seattle resident, Landon Howell) covered the study thus:

In “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” authors Robert and Brenda Vale argue that resources required to feed a dog — including the amount of land needed to feed the animals that go into its food — give it about twice the eco-footprint of, say, building and fueling a Toyota Land Cruiser. Noting that a cat’s pawprint was roughly equivalent to a Volkswagen Golf’s, “New Scientist” asked an environmentalist at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, U.K., to independently calculate animals’ environmental impact, and reported that “his figures tallied almost exactly.” The study apparently didn’t take into account the emissions of either the SUV or the dogs.

There are 40,906 licensed dogs in Seattle, and about 125,000 total, according to Don Jordan, director of the Seattle Animal Shelter and President of the Washington State Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies.

“If you look at a large-size dog, they can live 10-14 years, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me,” Jordan said of the study. “There’s a lot that goes into manufacturing and producing food to care for dogs during the course of a life.”

Short of eating the dogs, what should be done about these four-legged eco-Hummers before they kill us all?

“If, in fact, this is true, I think that given the focus particularly with the mayor’s office of being the greenest city possible, I would think that pet owners would look at the manufacturing process for the items they’re buying for their dogs. I’ve seen every year the boutique shops for dogs start to sprout up, whether it be bakers or clothing stores or treats or stuff,” Jordan said.

Mayor Greg Nickels’ spokesman Alex Fryer somehow appeared not to find the matter urgent. “We never answer a hypothetical,” he said.

Candidate Mike McGinn didn’t respond to a Seattle Times query.

Joe Mallahan’s spokeswoman, Charla Neuman — who owns two St. Bernards — refused to relay questions on the topic to Mallahan.

“Thank god this wasn’t paid for by taxpayer dollars,” Neuman said of the New Zealand study, while spinning the matter thusly: “Take the combination of Joe having a small dog and driving a Prius, and he’ll be a very green mayor.”


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