Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Pet Thing

The average American has paid little or no attention to the horrors in Zimbabwe under Mugabe, but now he knows just how awful it is. Because, after all, a recent news story designed to get our attention finally made the rounds of the mainstream media. Is it about the skyrocketing infant mortality rate? The appalling conditions for prisoners under the Mugabe regime? The fact that there's no food to be had and people are crossing the border in desperation?

Nope. This is something really, really terrible. People are (prepare to be shocked!) - eating their pets. The SPCA of Africa announces that it really can't do much about it and they can't humanely euthanize the animals instead of having them eaten by starving people. I'm not totally clear on why they'd want to euthanize them, instead of letting them be eaten by people who would otherwise starve. Death is death - I was taught that if you kill something, you'd damned well better eat it - that you honor an animal's life by not taking it lightly or wasting it.

Now don't get me wrong. I have 4 cats and 2 working farm dogs who I adore. They are all of them working animals, but that doesn't prevent me from loving them. Right now, Zucchini, our youngest cat, is napping on my lap, while Minnie, our senior cat enjoys the warmth of the monitor on this cold day. One of the great pleasures of living on a farm is having animals. They share my bed, they provide us with pleasure and comfort. And to absolutely blunt, if my kids were starving, we'd eat our pets.


I realize there is nothing on earth more likely to get me flamed from here to Sunday. Ok, I have four children, that's bad. Ok, I said we should fly less - that's really bad. But to pick on people's pets...that's beyond the pale. Because we have a very, very, very sensitive relationship to our animals. That's why the news story on Zimbabwe got far more attention than anything about starving people actually could.


The impact of industrial livestock production is tied up in our relationship with our animals. Most pet food manufacturers can and will take any source of protein they get a hand on. This includes diseased livestock that would otherwise be a complete economic loss for feedlot owners and cattle raisers, parts of animals Americans won't eat (this is not as many as you think - what do you believe is in those chicken nuggets or the canned beef stew?), roadkill, and the remains of euthanized pets from animal shelters. That is, most of us are feeding our own animals the products of industrial scale livestock production - including many of us who won't eat it ourselves. We're also saying we care enormously about animals, and then using the surplus population of pet animals to feed our own pet animals. http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/54236/


The odds are good you know the statistics already. Feedlot animal production produces more greenhouse gasses than planes, trains and automobiles. 70% of all US grain goes to animals, enough grain to feed every hungry person on earth. The animals in these feedlots are tortured, the human beings are doing one of the most dangerous, underpaid and horrifying jobs in the US and the rates of disease, antibiotic feeding (which has led directly to antibiotic resistant infections) and every imaginable other horror are appalling. And pet owners are supporting and subsidizing this. I've not been able to find fully reliable figures on what proportion CAFO livestock ends up in our pet bowls (in fact, I've not been able to find a single study on the environmental impact of pets, which tells you something as well).

What I have found is that one out of every 7 cattle doesn't grade high enough to get on your plate (and let's be clear, standards aren't that high). Most such animals are sent to rendering plants, along with whatever else is lying about, and much of the protein is added to things like your chicken's feed, and your dog's food. As the article above notes, no rendering plants that the author was able to locate segregate out things like euthanized livestock, and that means those antibiotics and narcotics used on feedlot cattle and to euthanize someone's pet cat is now in your animal's feed.

My guess, and I am still seeking out fully reliable numbers, is that in total weight, 1/5-1/8 of all CAFO livestock protein ends up as pet food. That means that our pets may be responsible as 2-4% of all greenhouse gasses, in total. I don't swear these figures are correct - the petfood industry is notoriously quiet about where it gets its protein from, and it may be that our kitties are eating far more other kitties than they are downer cows. I suppose, from a purely environmental standpoint, that might be better...but...

I love my pets, and I want to see them survive and flourish, but not at this environmental price. I like cows as well as kitties - I don't think it is worthwhile to torture cows so that my cats might eat. Similarly, I love my dogs, but I love wildlife as well, and the grain we use to feed feedlot cattle is grown on monocultured land that supports virtually no wild animals.

For those of us who love animals, we have to find a better way of feeding them, and producing their food locally and sustainably. That means that for cats, which are obligate carnivores, it is necessary for us to produce meat sustainably and humanely for them. For dogs, who are omnivorous, a smaller amount of animal protein, mixed with a largely local vegetarian diet is far more sustainable than the present options. That means we're all going to have to get intimately involved with our pet's diets, and if we're not prepared to do that, maybe we shouldn't have them. And if we don't have some kind of long term plan for how to care for those animals without doing other harm, perhaps we shouldn't have pets.

And we probably have to have fewer pets in total. That's sad - but the truth is that the animals have ecological footprints too, and we cannot, simply cannot, at this stage take food out of the mouths of people to feed our pets. Nor is it just to allow cats and dogs to overpopulate, so that we can kill them and use them to feed the pets we do take care of. Just add it to the list of things we're going to have to face up to.

Sharon

44 comments:

Kim said...

No flames from me. I'm with you. I get lots of comments from people (some amusing, some down right cruel) over the fact that we eat our livestock. (Goats, chickens, and turkeys) Apparently, raising our own animals in a humane way and slaughtering them for food is cruel to the animal and to our children, but buying meat in a grocery store is perfectly ok.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime, can someone on these comment boards suggest a respectable brand of cat and dog food that doesn't use these practices?

We adopted a disabled kitty from a shelter and, as apartment dwellers, obviously can't raise food for him. But we are willing to shell out a bit more than usual for pet food that's more ethical. Does this even exist?

Thank you.

jewishfarmer said...

I'm afraid I don't know of any particular brand that I can recommend. I know some that are organic, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't use slaughterhouse or feedlot animals.

If you do some searching, you can probably find recipes for homemade petfoods using local meats and organic ingredients. That might be the best option.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Yes, it does exist. We feed our Humane Society adopted canine companion mostly a homemade organic/vegan diet of beans, grains and vegetables, supplemented with Newman's Own dry dog food where the chicken included is free range ("organic" i.e. not from factory farms).

See:

newmansownorganics.com

~Vegan/Leaving So. FL

homebrewlibrarian said...

I have two lovely children, my cats Lorenzo and Niccolo. They've been with me for the eight years prior to my awakening to PO and CC and now I'm in a predicament.

They've spent their whole lives indoors and since I live in an apartment, this is probably why they've lived as long as they have. I'm not sure they could hunt for themselves successfully if they were allowed outdoors and by the time I might be somewhere where they could go out, they'll be elders. Not the best time to learn how to fend for yourself.

I am very concerned about feeding them. Particularly now since one of them has been diagnosed with diabetes and is responding well to insulin. I'd really like to get them off the prescription dry kibble I get from my vet and back into a raw food diet but the diabetes kind of stumps me.

I used to make their food from ground raw chicken, finely grated raw zucchini and soaked oat bran and they snarfed it down. Then I went back to school, they went to a nanny for a couple years and we moved to vet recommended dry kibble since I could hardly expect the nanny to make their food like I had. I've been reading up on raw food diabetic diets and plan to head in that direction as long as I can work closely with my vet to monitor insulin levels (the goal is to get him off insulin - keeping my fingers crossed here).

My predicament is this: Should food for humans be used to feed them? I don't raise my own animals so I don't have access to the organs and other parts that are removed during slaughtering. And even if I did, would that be best for cats (plus some vegies and grains)?

Kerri who is currently looking for an integrative veterinarian in Anchorage, AK

Anonymous said...

It's easy to sit at the computer with a full belly and say what one would or would not do if one were starving and saw no realistic hope of relief. It's quite another matter to actually be in that situation.

I've never starved and God/Fate willing, I never will. But until and unless that day comes, you won't catch me passing judgment one what others do in such a situation.

I like to think I wouldn't kill and eat my pets, but if I were starving, presumably my pets would be, too. Maybe killing them for food would benefit everyone, since increasing starvation's body count doesn't do anything good for anyone.

Anonymous said...

We recently adopted a formerly feral cat: our first family pet ever. It was a hard decision for me.

We've decided to keep her as an indoor cat so that she doesn't do harm to our immediate and jeopardized populations of birds, amphibians, and insects.

She could help out with the rodent population, however, which seems to be increasing. Exhibit A: our compost pile. I've thought about catching some of those mice and shutting her in our bathroom with them. Or getting some feeder mice from the pet store.

I'm still scratching my head over this one.

Anonymous said...

I had decided several years ago that if push came to shove, I would raise guinea pigs to feed our cat. He is confined to the house after being hit by a car, and would probably not last long if he had to get his own food. I would have to do the slaughtering, which is something I wouldn't look forward to.

I am happy at the thought of a relatively meatless diet for me, but was concerned about what to do about the cat.

Anonymous said...

No, I would not kill my dog Luna if I or my children were starving. Luna would be starving as well. I know she would not kill her family. So how can I be less than Luna?

Anyone familiar with Peter Singer's book "Animal Liberation"? An enlightening work!

Mohandas K. Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Ours must be the worst nation on Earth when one considers how factory-farming has been taken to such an obscene extreme in the U.S.

~Vegan/Leaving So. FL

Val said...

I think it is beyond ridiculous to place an animal on the same level as my children. I too love my animals, but in times of starvation, rules change. People in America get very riled about their pets (remember the pet food recalls?), and ignore other major issues(such as the situation in Zimbabwe).
I think you covered everything very humanely and thoroughly in you post Sharon, I just wanted to let my thoughts be known. :)

Green Bean said...

To the person who asked about alternative pet foods, we use Pet Promise which says on the package that it contains no animal byproducts, rendered meat or chicken meals, factory farm meat or chicken, antibiotic-fed protein sources, added growth hormones and also says that it is all chicken sourced from family farms and ranchers committed to eco-friendly, natural and sustainable practices and humane treatment of animals. We got it at our local Whole Foods.

Of course, I'm not sure whether all the representations are true and I think it would be more ideal to make my cat's food and be more involved in it. At this point, I'm swimming in eco-projects so I figure Pet Promise is my best bet for right now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Newman's Org. and Pet Promise recommendations. I didn't know of either. Too bad we just bought a huge bag of Goodlife which I now realize is only nominally "natural."

Anonymous said...

Another issue we probably need to think about is pet waste disposal: is it composted or thrown away mummified in plastic bags? for apt dwellers, is it flushed? what's in the litter we use? We started using a recycled wheat cat litter, but it's way more expensive and not great on odor (even with added baking soda), so it's hard to imagine people in mass voluntary adopting even a minimal change like this one.

jewishfarmer said...

Vegan, I assume you've researched Newman's Own and know that free range really means free range? I'm not criticizing, I just know that in industrial organic production, a lot of times that claim doesn't mean much - a door that opens out for a week or two in a chicken's life. But I haven't done any looking into this myself, and I assume you have.

I admire that you wouldn't eat your dog. Personally, I think I'd euthanize a starving animal - and then we might as well eat them. But I believe strongly that when push comes to shove, we save human lives first. I can understand and respect the other point of view, though, because I think you are right, that the way treat animals and nature says a lot about us.

Kerri, I think beloved older pets are something we have a responsibility towards. I'm not saying that pets should never get food that humans could potentially eat - just that we need to find the best possible options for them, and think hard about it. I would imagine that where you are, if worst came to worst you could barter for hunters offal (the parts most hunters don't eat anyway) or fish heads, etc... Even if they could safely go out to hunt, that probably wouldn't be a good idea - cats are major songbird predators.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I disapprove of domestic animals - I don't. I think that domestical animals and humans have a long-standing, traditional and enormously valuable relationship. Historically, they have taken a little bit of our food, including scraps we don't eat, bones and other bits, and in return provided us with rodent reduction, protection, animal guarding, companionship, shared body heat and a host of other valuable things. I believe that we should have domestic animals - that such a long term relationship isn't going away, nor should it. But we do need to find better ways to do this.

Anonymous, you bring up a good point on pet waste. We compost our kitty litter (using alfalfa pellets as a base - and no, it doesn't keep the smell down that well). But baggying your dog or cat poop and putting it in a landfill makes methane. We need some better choices.

Does anyone know if you can safely worm or bokashi compost pet waste? We just have a seperate compost area and leave it alone, but we have land. For apartment dwellers, this might have to be dealt with at the municipal level, but I don't know of any model programs. Anyone?

Various anonymouses, Guinea pigs are a good idea. So would be trapping overpopulated squirrels. And yes, keeping rodent populations down is really important! Again, there are reasons for the domestication of animals - good ones.

Sharon

Amelia said...

Here you go, Sharon: vermiculture of cat waste on a large scale. We do this with ours.

Anonymous said...

Marion Nestle the famed nutritionist, and food activist, the author of Food Politics, is working on a book on pet food, that should be out pretty soon, I think it will answer a lot of your open questions on pet food issues.
-Brian M

thriftwizard said...

Do you have Green Cone composters over there? I compost cat waste, amongst other things I couldn't put in an "open" heap, in ours; it's digested straight into the ground to feed our big apple tree, which has produced huge, healthy crops every year since we installed it.
And I'm with you too - we eat our surplus cockerels (young roosters) as we live in town and can keep chickens, but not roosters. They've had a much better life running free, digging and dustbathing, than those poor little birds people buy in the supermarkets. And if we left them to grow to full maturity, they would fight to the death. Sell them at auction and they will go cheaply to restaurants, or worse, after the stress of the journey and the sale; do not ask what happens to them then. Better a swift, low-stress (for them anyway) end here, and food we know has had a happy, healthy life.
We could just buy in pre-sexed chicks (and do, sometimes) but that begs the question - what happens to the excess males? Back to the petfood question...

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see the pet population reduced simultaneously with the human population, and in the same way: through prevention of births. My cat is spayed, so she will not be contributing to the cat overpopulation problem. Her prescription kibble does contain corporate-food crud (lots of "byproducts") but I regard this as waste-saving if anything. Chicken and pork are not factory-farmed to manufacture byproducts but meat for humans, and if the byproducts weren't used they would only be discarded, while the animals were still killed.

I appreciate your emotional honesty and don't want to flame you, but I regard pets as being very different from livestock because of the mutual love and trust that is formed between two individuals, yes, who happen to be of different species. My cat comes when called because I have made her believe that she will always be safe with me. How terrible it would be to exploit that trust to get her to wait peacefully while I prepared to chop her and throw her in the soup! Personally, I would rather die than harm my cat.

Sure, I have no human children, and you can postulate that if I did and they were starving, I might kill my kitty-child to feed them. The slippery slope that leads to, of course, is that if you had one severely retarded child in the family, and the others were starving... you get the picture, right? No. We will all have to physically suffer and die someday anyway, so we might as well set limits on what we are willing to do to delay those moments.

Dewey

jewishfarmer said...

Dewey, I just don't buy the Peter Singer "retarded children rank lower than pets" bit, so no, I don't think there's a slippery slope at all, and even if there were, I think slippery slope arguments are generally logically weak - the breaking point comes where things are different. That's not to say I've never made one ;-), just to say that I don't think that one thing leads to another here.

I also disagree with you about factory farming - I think factory farming is profitable in large part because there are markets for the diseased animals and offal - that is, any feedlot model that had such high death rates and factory chickens or cows or pigs have could never survive economically (at least offering cheap food) if they didn't have enormous markets for diseased animals and their byproducts, they couldn't practice the way they do, which produces so much disease. The pet issue is structurally integrated into the feedlot system.

As for love and trust - that happens with livestock too, or at least it does to me. Even chickens, geese and turkey develop relationships with people, and come to trust us. They can be quite remarkably affectionate, actually - my turkeys follow me around and talk to me. And yes, I eat them.

Unfortunately, the only way to avoid this is to factory farm animals, to treat them inhumanely so that they don't trust people and to treat them like objects, so that people don't love them. Almost any animal you show kindness to will develop some degree of trust and (mutual) affection. So if we or our pets are to eat meat at all, we must either hunt all of it from the wild, or accept that somewhere along the line there will be a moment at which that line of trust and affection has to be violated. It isn't pleasant, but it is true.

Oh, except my worms. If we're all prepared to eat worms, I think we'll be able to avoid such intimacies ;-). But they aren't kosher ;-).

Always good to hear your take - I appreciate your honesty as well.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

I have two comments re eating pets. Many years ago I saw a TV show about a refuge for unwanted, former pet pot-bellied pigs. The refuge wanted the pigs adopted out but only as pets! I come from 800 years of German peasant stock and I know a porkchop on the hoof when I see one. Even as a teenager I thought that was idiotic.

Second, kitty litter. You can use yesterday's newspaper! One of my cats (beautiful Vanessa) had to live in a washing machine sized cage in our dining room (very long story). We tried everything and ended up with a litter pan lined with an inch of regular newspaper folded to fit. This was topped off with the shiny ad inserts that I cut into 1 inch wide ribbons. This allowed beautiful Vanessa to scratch around in something while the underlayer absorbed the fluids. It had to be changed every other day, or better, every day. I recycled plastic grocery bags when throwing out the used litter box contents. We used all of our neighbors old papers, even removing them from recycling bins as needed. The shiny slick ad inserts are NOT absorbent and when cut into ribbons and fluffed will retain their loft. The regular newspaper didn't work nearly as well to provide "digging through" material but was vital for the urine absorbing. For best results, you need to have both layers. We did this for almost two years; it took that long for beautiful Vanessa to learn to tolerate our new dog. I suppose you could compost the used newspapers and use the resulting material on ornamental shrubs but we threw it away.

Teresa from Hershey

jewishfarmer said...

Theresa, just FYI, I'm not sure anyone should compost shiny newsprint - I have read (but not confirmed) that the inks can contain lead and other toxics.

But otherwise, a good idea - I'm glad your kitty got out of the washerspace, too.

Sharon

Dirty Harlot said...

Here in Russia people just have their cats go into a flat tray. No litter, no newspaper (only for kittens to teach them at first). The waste gets dumped into the toilet. The cat will still scratch, they don't seem to care if there's something in the tray or not. You could also train your cat to go straight into the toilet.

Dark Daughta said...

I'm horrified, yet somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this had to be the case...soylent green's a-comin'. I'm this moment very reminiscent of when folks who may not have strong feminist or anti-oppression analysis do a silent shriek as their walls of denial come tumbling down. Having paid lip service to animals as on par with humans and realizing all the ways they're colonized by us, what most people politely refer to as domestication, I'm having that same moment of horror, ever expanding in it's implications and significance. unh...thank you?

Anonymous said...

One thing I really like about Micheal Pollan's analysis in the Botany of Desire, is his argument that domestication is about plants colonizing humans as much as it is about humans colonizing plants. Zea mays is pretty damn successful at the moment because it has managed to team up with us humans, but has taken an unsustainable path that may hurt it in the long run. I suspect that roughly the same argument works with animal domestication. Dogs are certainly doing better than their close cousins wolves at the moment.
-Brian M.

Anonymous said...

i wonder if sharons kids were starving she would kill mr and mrs gentile down the road ? good pork fed gentiles ! feed the kids for a month.

jewishfarmer said...

Trolly around here, ain't it.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would sooner kill and eat a troll than my cat. Nice long marinade ought to cover up the taste wonderfully.

I am pondering your speculation that the byproducts industry props up the meat industry. I personally avoid factory meat, and I've thought about doing the Badly Acronymed Raw Food thing for my cat, but especially with her health issue, it has just seemed easier to feed the medically tested diet. Perhaps further research is called for.

Dewey

Dark Daughta said...

I haven't read him, but from what you're saying, his analysis seems to leave out any critique of power and domination which runs through this post, as we, not the plants or the animals, are capable of and known to inflict unknown terrors and abominations on other creatures in the name of sustaining the continuity and "well being" of our own species. The idea that the dogs are doing much better than say...wolves, actually underscores ideas about power and domination, as it is us human beings who have profoundly changed the environment in ways that make it difficult for animals living int he wild to sustain themselves, meaning they're not doing well, meaning they're either directly or indirectly being killed by human beings who believe they have dominion over all creatures.

Anonymous said...

hmm, I once went on a long tirade about how there are three strands of environmentalist philosophy, one coming from the "wild ethic" and the American notion of frontier; one coming from the background of agriculture; and one coming from the human rights movement and the experience of urban people with trying to prevent political exploitation, and each of them agree on a lot, but often have slightly different takes on things. Animal rights issues like pets and veganism, often bring out the tensions between folk that would otherwise be allies.

Your analysis of humans and dominion makes sense if you look at things from the veiwpoint of human political struggles, and so I'm not really trying to criticize. But from an ecological viewpoint sometimes it doesn't look that way. Humans are part of the system as much as we might wish we were in charge of it instead. Dominion is an illusion, something to tell ourselves to pretend we have more control over the forces of nature than we do. Indeed, we need massive corn supplies at least as much as corn needs us. When we try to exert our power, the feedback cycles built into nature kick-in and resist us. One of the many reasons monoculturing doesn't really work very well in the long run. Nor are we the first species to transform the environment around us. Photosynthesis outputted oxygen and screwed the poor anaerobic bacteria. Flowering plants successful alliance with insect pollinators transformed the land in ways that were a problem for cycads. Grasses and forests competed for land before we got here. Nematodes are far more successful and dominating than humans in terms of total biomass, and transforming of the environment around them. If you see humans as standing outside the system and transforming it, we look like we are ruining it. If you see humans as standing inside the system and transforming it, we look like one more wave of inter-species competition and cooperation. The bugs and bacteria and such are racing to adapt to use just as fast as they can, just as they would to any other change in the ecosystem. Indeed, one of our big effects is habitat destruction, but another is biological transfer, moving species to places they wouldn't be able to get on their own.

So do ants have dominion over aphids? Or are aphids parasites on ants? Or commensals? Or something more complicated? What about a predator-prey relation like coyotes and rabbits? Do coyotes have dominion over rabbits? What about a habitat destruction relation like trees and grasshoppers? Do trees have dominion over grasshoppers because as forests spread they destroy the grasslands that grasshoppers need to live in? When trees use chemical poisons to kill off competitor plants are they inflicting unknown terrors and abominations on other creatures in the name of sustaining the continuity and "well being" of their species?

Or maybe our intelligence and will makes our behaviour quite different than that of trees, or nematodes, or coyotes. Maybe our belief in dominion (those who do believe in it anyway) makes the difference. I'm not really trying to disagree with you, just show why its not as straight-forward as it looks at first. Why the human-rights approach is one way, but not the only way to look at things.
Power and dominion arguments always bring out the Hegelian and dialectician in me.

-Brian M.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately for her neigbors, Sharon's religious belief mean she can't eat people. I have seen depections of trolls with cloven hooves. A google search did not reveal if they chew their cud. They do seems to spew, though.

MEA, who if push came to shove wouldn't eat her children, but would go for a catstew. I found a reciept for cat once: after you beheaded it and skinned it, you were to bury in it in the ground for a couple of days.

Dark Daughta said...

Brian,
head whirring, smiling, I never read hegel either, I think I was supposed to, I think that the people who I've read have read Hegel :). I get what you're saying about completely seeing the earth as a system outside of ideas about domination. I suspect that I may not be the one who needs to be sold on humans as part of the system. What I'm saying is that the actions of those who construct themselves as being powerful are linked to stuff like feeding animals back to themselves. Complete abomination that I'm not sure has any positive impact for any of us. I think When I read this post, I was triggered around Soylent Green and wondered: If they will feed the animals to themselve and the animals to us...how long before they're feeding us to ourselves?

Lovely and thought provoking post Jewish Farmer.

Anonymous said...

You said "What I'm saying is that the actions of those who construct themselves as being powerful are linked to stuff like feeding animals back to themselves. Complete abomination that I'm not sure has any positive impact for any of us."

Yup! that's a good way of putting it. And you're right part of the abomination is some folk constructing their own notion of themselves as ultra-powerful and playing out their little imperialist fantasies on cows and pigs and chickens. This Pollan book the Botany of Desire, traces 4 different plants histories with philosophical comments on each one: apples, marijuana, tulips, and potatoes. And the story of the history of potatoes is all about colonialism, imperialism, and the desire for humans to pretend that we are IN CONTROL. And this dominion model has been part of the picture for a long time. But it hasn't been the only or even the main note in our relation with plants until recently. It isn't really how tulips or apples or oaks work. Plenty of folk valued plants, or wanted to live commensally with them, or wanted to create reservations where they left the plants alone, or even who wanted to pamper them. And the same on animals, you get folk who want to leave animals alone, folk who want to live commensally with animals as co-workers in a cycle, folk who want to pamper animals, and folk who want to dominate them. Its only recently that the industrial agriculture model has come close to swamping all the other models (except maybe animals as family members) in our culture.

-Brian M.

Liz said...

Sharon, I've been waiting for someone to talk about the impact of pets for a long time!

I think pets play a very important role in a person's life, and often dream of having a canine or feline companion, but I just can't justify the environmental cost -- the food, the waste, etc. So we've decided that the only kind of pets we're going to keep are the small, furry, vegetarian kind like hamsters and rabbits.

Maybe they don't "give" as much satisfaction as a cat or dog, but I like knowing that my adorable little hamster has a very small ecological pawprint. I also may be a huge cornball, but that's ok with me. ;)

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