*Right relations with non-humanimals excludes dominion (zoos, pets, faring, hunting, etc.), but does include stewarding genuinely for their own interests (habitat restoration, sanctuaries, etc.)
*Natural selection” and “human selection”: Natural selection is always for the betterment of the species, while human selection is almost always done for human gains and almost always is not better for that species. The error is not necessarily in having a rescued “pet” the error is in breeding them – any of them. Ken Damro
Many people enjoy hiking with their dogs in natural areas, since dogs derive a lot of pleasure from sampling all the scents in such areas, as well as getting some great exercise. Some dog owners delight in seeing their dogs roam free off the leash, since the dogs get even more fun from that.
However, due to the disturbance to wildlife caused by dogs, many parks and preserves have banned them. This page lists some of the reasons behind that ban:
Direct Predation. Even though my experience is that dogs are rarely successful in catching the many birds and squirrels they chase, dogs occasionally directly kill wildlife, or injure the wildlife enough to cause their subsequent death.
Dogs roaming off trail can trample vegetation, and if dogs are numerous they can remove the vegetation in popular areas by trampling, scratching and digging. Trampling is the major effect of hikers and their pets to plants.
Indirect Predation. Even when dogs are unsuccessful in catching the object of their chase, the potential prey has had to expend significant energy in order to save their life. Since in many cases animals are just barely surviving, expenditure of extra energy may push them over the edge to malnutrition and allow other predators to kill them. ..
Both types of predation are severely reduced, but not eliminated, if dogs remain leashed. However the simple fact is that a large percentage of dog owners allow their dogs to be off-leash even when the rules state otherwise. ..
Disease Transmission. It is worth recalling that the primary effect on Native Americans due to European immigration to the Americas was the importation of disease which killed off the majority of the Native Population. Dogs can apparently transmit a number of pathogens to wildlife:
- Parvovirus affects other canines, and was the source for wolf pup mortality in Glacier National Park area in the early 1990s.
- Muscle cysts (Sarcocystis spp.) can affect ungulates like deer and elk.
- Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects the kidneys and urinary tract of most species of mammals.
- Parasites such as ticks, keds, tapeworms, and fleas are well-known problems in dogs that can be passed to other wildlife.
Many of these pathogens are transmitted through the abundant feces that dogs leave on any trail.
Competition for Resources. Water is usually the scarcest resource in many places during the summer and fall…
Addition of nitrogen to the soil. Patrick Murphy, a plant ecologist, points out that dog poop adds significant nitrogen to the soil, which encourages the growth of non-native plants at the expense of native plants. (SDUT 12/9/01, E2)
Scent? It has often been said that just the scent left by a dog can affect the behavior of other species. While this certain is plausible, due to the strong importance of scent marking used by animals, apparently this has never been documented. (This does not mean that this is not a problem; simply that it has not been shown to true of false.) See A Review of Mammalian Scent Marking.
- Dogs decrease the number and diversity of wildlife near the trail. Many people come to the SRP to see animals, so their enjoyment would be directly diminished.
- Many non-dog owners are immensely bothered when a strange dog comes up to them and starts to smell them at close quarters, or worse, jumps up on them or barks at them. Many dog owners may not even be aware of this, since, after all, dog owners consider this close contact with their dog to be a pleasant experience, and may even think that everyone else enjoys this, too.
- The presence of dogs would inevitably result in a small number of bad encounters between dogs themselves and between dogs and visitors. Small children are especially in danger from loose dogs, ranging from simply being knocked down by an enthusiastic dog to being bitten or seriously harmed.
In case dog owners reading this feel that the above information is simply the opinion of someone who does not like dogs, it is worth noting that I personally have hiked many miles with my dog in public areas where dogs are allowed. ..
Why No Pets?
Some people have reacted very strongly toward this statement on animal ownership and in particular our desire to have a pet free community. Not everyone who lives here shares the same feelings about animal ownership and pets. As a community however, we have made the choice to have no animal ownership within the community. It seems to us that there is a place for a community which does not have any animal ownership. Those who want to be involved in animal husbandry have many communities where they go. Those who want to own pets have many communities where they can go. Those who wish to live in a community with no animal ownership and no pets have few choices. Zim Zam will be one of those places.
Right to Free Agency
Originally published August 11, 2005 in the Seattle Times
Forgive the pet metaphor, but the people of Seattle have got to stop pussyfooting around about dogs. Seattle boasts some of the nation’s…
By Ann Hedreen
Forgive the pet metaphor, but the people of Seattle have got to stop pussyfooting around about dogs.
Seattle boasts some of the nation’s most progressive dog-ownership laws. We have a leash law that allows owners to take their dogs just about anywhere. We have nine off-leash areas where owners can run their dogs freely, and we’re about to have two more. We have a successful scoop-it campaign that makes our streets far more foot-friendly than many cities (been to Paris lately?).
Seattle also is endowed with some of the nation’s most beautiful parks, including half a dozen pockets of true urban wilderness, giving dog owners an endless supply of beautiful places to exercise themselves and their pets.
But something’s happening here that could upset the whole idyllic picture. Our parks and the people who visit them are at risk because of a growing minority of dog owners who are choosing to break the leash law.
Over the 15 years I’ve been running and walking in Seward Park, I have seen more and more dog owners choose to run their dogs off the leash. They know our animal-control agency is woefully understaffed and it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever get a $54 ticket. They know that there is an off-leash dog area a half-mile away at Genesee Park.
What they may not know is that their dogs are trampling native plants, allowing invasive ivy to take over the forest floor and slowly choke some of Seattle’s oldest trees. They may not know that the city, with the help of several small volunteer organizations like the Friends of Seward Park, spends more and more time and money every year trying to save the parks from their carelessness.
They may also not know that no matter how well-behaved their dog is and no matter what breed, their dog can terrify people who don’t know from a hundred yards away how friendly and harmless it is. And their dog, even if it has never misbehaved before, can bite someone, and when it happens, it happens in the blink of an eye.
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that nationwide, 4.7 million people a year are bitten by dogs. Eight hundred thousand require medical attention. Injury rates are highest among children ages 5-9. The younger the child, the more likely they are to be bitten on the head, face or neck.
The Seattle Animal Shelter’s executive director, Don Jordan, says that our city averages about 300 reported dog bites per year and one to two reports of aggressive or menacing dogs per day, but that many bites and incidents go unreported.
On the list of breeds that account for most of the reported dog bites in Seattle are some that you would expect, such as pit bulls, and others you might not: Labs, retrievers and spaniels.
“This isn’t a dog problem, this is a people problem,” Jordan told me. “Dog owners need to behave themselves. Having a dog off-leash is not an entitlement.”
Dave Patterson, head of the Division of Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Harborview Medical Center, concurs, noting that, especially for children, the trauma of a severe dog bite carries with it a greater risk of long-term post-traumatic-stress disorder than most other kinds of trauma.
“There’s a primal brain response to the notion of being attacked,” Patterson explained. “These attacks can create phobias in children that may last for the rest of their lives.”
It’s time to protect our children and our parks. We need posters, yard signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts that bear a simple message: I LOVE OUR PARKS. I LEASH MY DOG.
We need Seattle’s many conservation groups — the Mountaineers, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation — to get behind an education campaign.
And if education campaigns, generous leash laws and off-leash areas don’t work, then maybe it’s time to create “off-dog” areas where people can play, picnic, walk and run freely, without fear. At the same time, we can give old-growth trees and open meadows freedom from dog abuse.
Three decades ago, Seattle set an example for the nation when it embraced recycling. We can do this, too. We can be a city that is dog-friendly and park-friendly.
Ann Hedreen is a filmmaker and writer who lives in Seattle.
The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the US
Anthropogenic threats, such as collisions with man-made structures, vehicles, poisoning and predation by domestic pets, combine to kill billions of wildlife annually. Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.
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Competing financial interests
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Eco-footprint or pawprint?
Domestic animals contribute to our carbon footprint, mainly due to their meat-based diet. A dramatic increase in domestic dog ownership in the world’s most populous country could lead to an increase in global CO2 emissions, experts warn.
In 2014, around seven percent of Chinese households – around 30 million – owned a dog, according to figures by Euromonitor. That compares to one in five homes in the EU and almost 50 percent of all US households. Experts warn it won’t be long before China’s ‘faithful friends’ equal those numbers in the West.
“For everyone in the world to have an American lifestyle, we would need seven planets, and three to live as Europeans,” Dabo Guan, professor at the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development, in the UK, told DW.
“If every urban Chinese person would have a Western lifestyle, the CO2 emissions in the country would double by 2030,” he added.
Although controversial, the idea of dogs as polluters started taking shape around 2009, with the publication of the book “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” by Brenda and Robert Vale.
The authors proposed that a medium-sized dog has twice the ecological footprint of a 4×4-style car.
Blame the pets?
John Barrett, a professor at the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, agreed with the authors – despite being a dog lover himself. Barrett told DW that the impact of pets on the environment is quite noticeable due to their meat-based diet –
Therefore, a dramatic rise in the global dog population would inevitably lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, he warned.