Animal Welfare as an Environmental Issue

Well, it seems I have had a bit of free time, as bureaucratic practices conspired to put a comma on my plans for a three-week research trip to Lahad Datu. Therefore, I did some rescheduling of some appointments so that I could attend an SPCA KK meeting at the DBKK building in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday evening.

The issues of strays in Sabah is not an issue most people would concern themselves with, preferring to ignore the existence of the multitude of dogs and cats that roam the streets throughout Sabah.

Some of you who are reading this would probably wonder as well, why should an environmental group concern itself with animal welfare issues? The discussion after the jump.

A messy environment, where food is wantonly wasted, tossed aside as often as the complaints come that not enough rice is being put on the plate.

Irresponsible pet ownership, leading to an explosion of stray cats and dogs.

Combine them and what you get are strays that roam into housing estates, or as university students would know as well, strays emptying the bins when every one has gone to bed.

Strays themselves don’t lie at the heart of the problem – it always comes back to anthropogenic origins. In this case, the failure to spay and neuter pets and the unsupervised release of animals to roam about, endangering the public and causing a nuisance at the same time.

When their population increases, scarcity of food eventually forces these animals into dangerous areas, such as campus canteens filled with people especially aggressive towards dogs.

What makes an issue an environmental issue?

I am going to give my own understanding of it based on actions that I myself have taken. You are free to disagree.

An environmental issue is one that concerns itself with scenarios that leave a negative impact on the environment, human welfare, and biodiversity.

Strays leave a negative impact on the environment in aesthetics, where a place becomes unattractive due to the number of animals on the loose. Worse, if these animals have been subjected to abuse, they are likely to be aggressive as well.

Strays also become carriers of diseases and pests as they lack the necessary love and care that a responsible pet owner would give. This then becomes an issue of human welfare as well. Frequent reports of conflicts between animals and people in campus would be strong evidence to support the issue.

Biodiversity itself is threatened by the existence of strays. In Australia for example, feral cats are responsible for the disappearance of many ground-dwelling birds and mammals.

One issue that is not directly environmental in nature is the question of ethics, where we ourselves should ask why aren’t we concerned about the welfare of cat and dogs – loyal companions of humanity since ancient times?

So what are the solutions?

Firstly, we must work towards educating pet owners about the importance of spaying and neutering. Owners may think that it is cruel to remove the ability of their pet to produce offspring, but this concern is a non-issue, as pets themselves only wish for the companionship of their adopted families.

Loss of the ability to breed is meaningless compared to the loss of love by a pet owner. Puppies and kittens born also need to be re-housed. As it is highly unlikely that pet owners would be willing to take up the extra burden, they are let off somewhere where former owners rationalise these dogs and cats should be able to hunt for food on their own.

Rationalizing abandonment.

I am going out on a limb here to propose that we increase our scope, to remember that environmental issues aren’t necessarily separated from ethical issues.

C’est tout. Salut!

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3 Responses

  1. […] the original here: Animal Welfare as an Environmental Issue « Greenpulse By admin | category: puppies kittens | tags: extra, former-owners, highly-unlikely, […]

  2. […] Animal Welfare as an Environmental Issue « Greenpulse Share and […]

  3. If we treated our pets the way factory farmed animals are treated you would be breaking the law. In other words one law for pets. Another for farm animals.

    You might be interested in my book ON THE MENU:ANIMAL WELFARE (website ame name!) – which tells, for the most part, a horror story, NOT imagined, but something that is happening every moment of every day. It draws attention to the animals on factory farms that never see natural light; or the seasons change; or feel the earth beneath their feet. Incarcerated in vast barns their lives are automated, unnatural, controlled as they are treated as nothing more than any other farm product and become grotesque parodies of their natural selves.

    This book describes the whole production process – from before conception to the way the animals we use for food are presented on the supermarket shelves: the chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese; the laying hens, quail and the pheasants reared for sport; the pigs and lambs; the dairy cattle, beef cattle and veal calves; and also the rabbits as well as the fish and shellfish.

    Published by Pen Press and available from Amazon at £8.99; from public libraries in the UK and Ireland; and also Ingrams (in the USA).

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