Are Dogs Really Man's Best Friend?
By Jeffery KimPublished March 5, 2017Over the years the pet industry has grown into a massive enterprise, amassing more than $60 billion in 2015 alone. Although people are devoted to their pets, it also signifies a growing dilemma as dogs significantly contribute to pollution and divert resources that could have gone to human beings in distress.
When Chinese president Xi Jinping and former US President Obama signed the historic climate change agreement in 2014, they probably never thought that something as simple as dogs had contributed so greatly to our current environmental predicament. While humans are undoubtedly the largest contributor to global warming, dogs have a surprisingly large negative impact as well as they continue to consume billions of pounds of canned meat a year, producing hundreds of millions of waste daily.
An average sized dog consumes about 360 pounds of meat in a year and about 210 pounds of cereal. A 2009 study done by New Zealand's University of Wellington concluded that pet dogs have a carbon footprint that is double that of a typical SUV. Owning a dog is really quite the extravagance when you consider the land that it takes to generate the amount that a hound needs to subsist. While you may be quick to judge dogs, the better person to judge may be yourself. 45 percent of American households have at least one dog. Additionally, some people feed their dogs more than they feed their own children as 53 percent of dogs are now obese.
The food going in is not the only problem as waste from dogs continue to wreak havoc on our environment. Scientific researchers have determined that methane was 30 percent more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Additionally, we now know that the effect of methane is 30 times more than that of carbon dioxide in a 100-year period. Dogs produced 102 million cubic feet of methane in the city of Chicago alone. Additionally, dogs produce 10 times the fecal coliform of a cow per body weight. This fecal coliform is toxic to algae blooms and when they are washed down storm drains into streams and the ocean, they negatively affect our coral population.
Currently, two German Shepherds use more resources than the average Bangladeshi consumes each year. While we may love our pets and may treat them like a part of the family, they are ultimately not the same as human beings. The amount of food that dogs consume is especially concerning when we consider the prospect that our future may be one that is less food secure.
Higher growing season temperatures can have drastic impacts on agricultural productivity, farm incomes, and food insecurity. Tracking the pattern of increasing temperatures, the possibility of a food insecure future looms larger. It seems foolish for us to devote so much attention and resources towards these animals. With our human population at more than seven billion and our dog population at hundreds of millions, the Earth will not be able to support both populations indefinitely.