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Dogs are the mother of all externalities producers. Most of the costs they impose on “society” are not in fact borne by the owners of the dogs but by the rest of us.

  1. All along the Erie Canal towpath where I like to bike, walk and jog there are more piles of poop than there are birds in the sky. Not only is this disgusting, it poses a huge health risk to me, my children and any people recreating in the nearby canal – runoff from animal waste is a serious problem for the cleanliness of our water suppliers. And people DO use the Erie Canal to kayak and fish. This can be generalized to the millions of dog owners who simply let their dogs out in their yards to poop and who do not immediately pick it up. This poop contaminates local water supplies and the billions of bugs that are attracted to that poop are dangerous spreaders of disease. The next time you are at a picnic and a fly lands on your piece of corn – remember that there is a very good chance that this fly was standing on top of a pile of poop just seconds before that. If you read Rose George’s terrific little book, The Big Necessity, you will see how unsanitary conditions in poor countries cause unmentionable harm to hundreds of millions of people. There is no reason we should tolerate replicating the conditions of the world’s poorest countries when we don’t “have to.” And certainly if you think policing this behavior is appropriate public policy, ask yourself what the resource and manpower requirements of such an action would be.
  2. As I sit here this morning, my neighbor’s 4 dogs are shouting through their window at me. It sure makes it hard to concentrate. This kind of noise pollution is far worse than the noise from the cars trolling alone I-490 behind my house – the I-490 sound is constant and predictable.
  3. Dogs are scary. I jog around my neighborhood and many folks have installed electric fences to keep their dogs in. Of course, that does not mean I don’t nearly poop my pants as I walk by and the dogs take a full-sprint at me only managing to dig their front paws in two feet from the curb to avoid their electric shock. It is terrifying to walk by some of these places I tell ya – particularly when some folks have German Shepherds, Pitbulls and Rotties. Further, people are always bringing dogs to places where they are not supposed to be. Almost every summer festival we go to has people bringing dogs despite signs that say “No Pets Allowed.” Oh, and that has me thinking – the existence of pets probably means cheap motel rental rates are higher than they otherwise would be.
  4. Dogs bite children and people and carry nasty diseases. According to the CDC 4.5 million people are nipped by dogs each year and about 1 million of these require medical attention.  Over 31,000 people endure reconstructive surgery because of dog bites. Compare that to the damage done by some other known threats to mankind. Most of these costs are borne by our children. Dogs themselves carry fleas and ticks and other little nasties too.
  5. Dogs are pure cost. They consume resources and provide no value. They do not make milk, fur, or meat in most places for human consumption. They require massive amounts of water, food, time for doctors, books for printing, materials to make bowls, materials to make all of the products to support them from beds to leashes to sweaters and more. All of those resources are taken right out of the mouths of living, breathing human beings. How can any dog owner sleep soundly when they are feeding a dog while millions of Americans go without food every day? This is not an external cost of course, since owners typically pay the cost of the resources used by dogs … but then again …
  6. When dogs die they often require burial or crematory services that produce carbon and take up valuable land space.
  7. Dogs destroy the planet. Try this on:

In “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” authors Robert and Brenda Vale argue that resources required to feed a dog — including the amount of land needed to feed the animals that go into its food — give it about twice the eco-footprint of, say, building and fueling a Toyota Land Cruiser …

Dogs are near the top of the food chain and require lots of methane producing meat to survive. Not only that, the resources needed to raise the meat that dogs live on must come from somewhere. The authors estimated that each medium size dog requires 2.1 acres of land to be fed each year, and having a dog emits as much CO2 per year as a giant car. Since nearly half of all Americans own dogs, by banning dogs we’d “save” something like 200 million acres of land for wildlife and food for people, and we’d save the equilavent of approximately 100 million cars on the road. I don’t know of a single proposal out there that is so easily within our grasp and can do so much good for the environment with so little direct cost. So let’s do it. It’s a no brainer, right?

6 Responses to “We Have a Moral Obligation to Ban Them”

  1. Steve Jean says:

    Is this Swiftian satire?

  2. Trey says:

    Steve, not sure… if wintercow had suggested EATING our dogs, then yes, Swiftian.

    http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

  3. Harry says:

    Steve, I wondered the same thing. But I think Wintercow has had it with dog poop sticking to his sneakers. (Let it be known that I do not have a dog in this fight. I live near a busy road, and knew the last dog that was killed by a car. We have cats, all of who showed up at our door. One lives inside, another lives in the garage during the winter, and two males live in the barn. We got the garage cat spayed, after we lured her into a Havaheart trap; so far, she and all of the other cats are smart enough not to go into the trap, which has trapped four raccoons, four skunks, and a thousand (I exaggerate) ground hogs. Just two days ago, I got two ground hogs in one trap, a record.

    Friends shoot the skunks and raccoons, and they get buried in assorted places and sometimes get dug up and eaten by another hungry animal, or animals who relish rotten skunk. Only once did I think I glimpsed a coyote (as opposed to the esteemed Coyote) jump over the fence toward the woods, but we have plenty of buzzards and crows to clean up after a larger animal, maybe a raccoon takes a few savory mouthfuls of dead skunk or aged raccoon.

    However, we live in a free country (so far) and I do not want the township, state, or federal police to look over my shoulder to monitor what I do with my cow’s manure in the winter.

    This does not mean that the Puritans cannot regulate what happens in the common, nor the Wesleyans do with the animals in the dormitories.

    I’m not getting a dog, and I sympathize with WC’s sentiments. It is not as difficult or big as raising a child, but it is a big responsibility.

  4. Harry says:

    Rereading wintercow polemic, he is the Lake Ontario and Erie Canal Swift.

    When I was fifteen, I watched a swimmer near a lock in the Erie Canal go underwater and spit out a mouthful. In the lock, my friend and I sunk our hands into inches of slime to protect the boat.. This was not Al Gore’s love canal.

  5. Harry says:

    Then there are the running dogs Mao spoke of. Mao, as stupid as Obama. Maybe not stupid, just ignorant, but thrilled with power.

    I know WC hates distractions from his point. I prefer running dog capitalists over jackals like Mao and Che Guavera, both of whom took many lives to promote their selfish cause.

  6. chuck martel says:

    Then there’s this.

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