Yesterday, there were 840 million domestic dogs and cats in the world.1
Today there will be even more.
Because they have a meat based diet, dogs leave a large ecological pawprint. (EPP) A 10 kilo dog’s EPP is similar to a Japanese person’s entire dietary footprint.2 Now, obviously your average Japanese person does not have an average footprint, largely due to the amount of meat they don’t eat. Japanese prefer fish, and plenty of it. (they wolf down more fish than anyone else in the world, can’t get enough of the stuff) It is possible to harvest fish without disturbing the environment at all. You may stir up the water, but it in the blink of an eye it manages to find its original form. Magic!
In the U.S. on the other hand, (the land of excess) a dog has an EPP of 30% of a human. (Is that because in the US they like to starve their dogs? Or is it perhaps because in the US they manage to wolf-down 3 times as much meat as a Japanese?)
Ironically enough, most dogs are fed far more protein and fat than is good for them. So this leads to higher food costs, higher vet costs and higher environmental costs. It could even end up costing the earth, heaven forbid!
But it’s not only the dogs that are getting too much fat and protein, us humans are in the same sorry state. (it is a little known fact that unused protein is converted into fat, oh no! we all know fat is a no no.)
What really irks me is that these large people and their large dogs and their large houses and their large cars and their enormous sense of entitlement, are often the same folks who say, “ We must not raise taxes. We must not increase welfare. We must live within our means.”
How mean is that?
One small thing you can do, is feed your dog dry food. Apparently dry food has an EPP 6 times smaller than wet food.3 Mainly because it contains about half as much meat. Which also makes it healthier as well.
One big thing we can all do, here on this continent, is feed our dog kangaroo. It leaves no ecological footprint. It is not necessary to damage the environment in order to harvest kangaroo.
Most of the roo we kill and consume is from outback N.S.W. There are about 20 million kangaroos out there. Of which 3 million are culled each year. About 15%. When the next harvest season comes around, the numbers are back up to 20 million. Magic!!
(This is called ‘sustainability’. Remember that word. It tends to pop up at odd times in the strangest places, a self-sustaining word.)
It gets better. Not only is farming ‘roos sustainable, it can also be humane. When drought inevitably arrives, as it always does, because it is inevitable, your female kangaroo, normally the most efficient breeding machine on earth, closes down her production line for a while, and takes a well earned break.
(the only known species where the female is always pregnant or suckling at the breast, except for the Irish)
But if not for our humane program of culling there would be an over abundance of kangaroos. Many of whom would be faced with a long and agonizing death by starvation during those long inevitable droughts.
So if you want to practice practical permaculture, do something for the environment, and the kangaroos, and your pets, and even yourself. Just eat less beefs and sheeps, and eat more native fauna and flora like eels and turtles and yabbies and what ever else your kids can find in the creek, and rabbits, of course ( aEuropean delicacy, I am told) and don’t forget the frogs and insects and grubs – rich in protein – low in fat… and maybe think about swapping your Irish Wolfhound for an axolotl or two.
Ben Boyang 2022
2 – Environmental impacts of food consumption by companion dogs and cats in Japan
3 – Wet pet food is far worse for climate than dry food, study finds