Dogs and Sustainability

by Kathleen Murray

Our planet is in trouble.  That’s not good for humans or the other lives on it.  What can we do, as dog lovers, to help?  Sustainability is what it is all about these days.  What can we do to sustain life on this planet?  Dogs are in big demand.   Most people love having a dog around them.   Wanting a dog is ok but is it causing the planet too much harm?  Are you causing irreparable damage by getting a dog?  Are you causing problems for our planet?  It depends entirely on what dog you are getting.   If you want to take a rescue dog into your life then that’s good.   If you want a pedigree/designer dog from a breeder then that’s bad.

There are already too many dogs on this planet and many of them are having miserable, cruel lives and horrible premature deaths.  This is because they are unwanted, either because someone irresponsible took one from a breeder and didn’t know that they had to train it, or they have been dumped because some irresponsible owner didn’t neuter their dog and it had pups which couldn’t find homes and ended up being handed into the local dog pound.

Illustration by Evelyn Suttle
Illustration by Evelyn Suttle

Dogs cost money to feed.  What do they eat?  They eat other animals!  These other animals have to be fed also.  What do they eat?  They eat grain or grass.  Forests and other important habitats have to be cleared for these grazing animals which causes major problems for the planet, and in America alone only 21% of grain produced is eaten directly by people ─ the rest is fed to animals or converted to ethanol for fuel for cars.  This is not good for us or our planet.   The knock on effect of buying a pedigree dog from a “breeder”, who is mostly in it for the cash, or due to an “accident” with their dog, is huge.  It is unsustainable.  Breeding has to stop.

There is already a world full of pedigree dogs and others in shelters having to be fed at a huge cost to this planet and this is the fault of people buying these dogs, for whatever reason.   This is never the fault of the dog.   If nobody bought them they would not be there.   If nobody let them breed they would not be there.  The amount of water, feed, antibiotic injections, hormone injections and all that goes with mass producing these farm animals for dog food (and other pets) is staggering.  The gas that comes from these animals is having a devastating effect on our planet and many people have no clue as to how bad the situation really is.

Please do your part in helping to save this planet, stop buying pups from breeders, stop breeding by neutering your dogs (and other pets) and be proud of yourself for helping to turn things around…before it’s too late.


Kathleen Murray is a dog behaviourist based in Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.  She is chairperson of the Donegal SPCA, founder of the Donegal Animal Rights group, and writes a weekly column called ‘Pets Corner’ for the Letterkenny Post.