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First Our SUVs, Next Our Pets

There was a time not so long ago when radical environmentalists were satisfied merely with attempts at taking away our right to own an SUV. Regrettably, those simple days are behind us. Today, these same radicals have focused their attention on taking away something far more precious ‘“ our pets. Hard to believe, right? Well, believe it. In an article appearing recently in the Agence France-Presse, journalists Isabelle Toussaint and Jurgen Hecker described claims made by Robert and Brenda Vale in their book, ‘Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,’ that pets are polluting the world. The Vales, of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, are considered specialists in ‘sustainable living.’ Yeah, sure, whatever. As described in the article, the Vales determined that the average ‘medium-sized’ dog generates roughly twice the amount of carbon dioxide per year as an SUV when taking into consideration the amount of land necessary to produce the dog’s food. The researchers suggest the main culprit in this large carbon footprint is the production of meat that makes up a large portion of the average ‘medium-sized’ dog’s diet (no surprise there since many environmentalists claim to be vegetarians and loathe the consumption of meat). And cats are no better, according to the Vales, who claim the typical pet feline generates nearly as much CO2 annually as driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year. The article states these findings were independently verified in a lab in England. Radical environmentalists will undoubtedly soon seize upon such data to justify further attacks on individual rights ‘“ in this case, of course, the simple right of owning a pet. These radicals can likely expect support from radical animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In particular, PETA holds as a basic tenet of its philosophy that it is fundamentally unjust for humans to own pets as such ownership is a violation of that pet’s rights. When I first read about PETA’s stance on pet ownership some time ago, I considered their philosophy for a moment. Was it a violation of a pet’s rights to be ‘owned’ by a human? Since I wasn’t certain, I checked with Dutch and Gracie, my two pet yellow Labs. They quickly assured me they felt no violation of their individual rights. In fact, they thanked me for providing them a safe, secure place to live, land to roam on, ponds to swim in, three square meals a day with an occasional ‘doggy’ treat thrown in, annual visits to the Vet for check-ups, medicine to prevent their hearts from being infested with heart worms, other medicine to kill biting fleas and ticks, and the occasional sightseeing trip into town in the back of my pick-up. All in all, from their perspectives, it’s not a bad life. And, yet, PETA and groups like them would rather I dump my dogs out on some back road to fend for themselves and live short, brutal lives ultimately dying of starvation or infection, all in the name of protecting their ‘rights.’ Well, I have news for PETA and their radical environmentalist counterparts ‘“ my pets are staying with me. No doubt many pet owners fall woefully short when it comes to providing a rich, stimulating life for their pets. The horrific story of the pit bulls abused at the hands of Michael Vick and his cohorts enraged the public and grabbed headlines for months. And there are many other less sensational yet, nevertheless, unfortunate examples of pet abuse ‘“ starving pets living in their own filth for lack of proper care and attention or stray and unwanted dogs and cats destined for euthanasia after being abandoned by their owners. True, all these stories are tragic. However, such stories are the exception rather than the rule as millions of Americans provide good homes and good lives for millions upon millions of pets. Not surprisingly, ‘greenies,’ ‘warmists,’ and radical animal rights activists seem more interested in controlling other people than in protecting the environment. Pet-generated CO2 emissions are simply their excuse to justify their efforts to diminish the rights of average, everyday Americans like you and me. After all, the amount of CO2 produced by America’s pets is miniscule compared to the total amount generated by the entirety of the world’s CO2-producing biomass yet you don’t hear environmentalists calling for the elimination of ‘lions and tigers and bears, oh my!’. So the next time you hear a radical environmentalist complain that your pet is polluting the air, do what I do ‘“ load your pet into your SUV (or, in my case, my diesel-fuel burning, extended cab pick-up truck), drive into town to the grocery store, buy them a big-ole meaty treat, toss it to ‘˜em, and let ‘˜em have at it. Trust me on this one ‘“ your pet will love you for it. As for what the environmentalists might think, well, who cares anyway, so long as they leave our SUVs and our pets alone. To contact Spencer, read his blog, or review an archive of his columns, please visit

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