Earth Week Daily Action: Adopt the Right Pet

What do Earth Week and Earth Day have to do with dogs, cats and maybe even snakes?

As it turns out, a lot.

* Wild cats kill billions of birds and mammals each year. In fact, “feral” cats are the number one cause of death for both, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. says that, “over the years…cats have brought about the extinction of 33 bird species.”

* Free-ranging dogs, which can include dogs born into the wild, feral dogs and street dogs, may carry rabies; in fact, more than 55,000 people die from rabies bites mostly inflicted by dogs each year.

* Pet snakes, released into the wild when they get too big, are threatening biodiversity in places like the Florida Everglades. The Burmese python is preying on birds, mammals like raccoons and opossum, and even alligators.

Plus, “puppy mills” run horrible, factory-style breeding facilities that often put profits above the welfare of the dog. These breeders may turn out “picture perfect” canines, but in reality, with so many millions of dogs in shelters and on the streets, isn’t it more humane to adopt a stray than to order up a brand new dog?

During Earth Week, being kind to our pets is a good way to be kind to the planet. Here’s what you can do:

* Adopt a pet from a shelter rather than a breeder. Shelter pets need homes, so adopting a pet that’s already alive is a wonderfully humane action to take. In fact, you may prevent that animal from being euthanized. You’ll definitely get it off the street. Contact your local animal rescue league or find a nearby shelter through your local Humane Society. The Shelter Pet Project also makes it easy to find a pet or pet adoption group.

* Take a stray dog or cat to a shelter where it can be put up for adoption. If you see a stray dog or cat, don’t leave it on the street. Alert the nearest shelter so the animal can be picked up, hopefully cleaned up and fed, and made available for adoption.

* If you get a pet, have it spayed or neutered so it will not reproduce. The Humane Society estimates that “in every community, in every state, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year.” Spaying or neutering your pet will help prevent more animals from becoming homeless. It’s also good for the animal, both in terms of extending its life span and reducing its risk of contracting various diseases.

* Keep cats indoors so they won’t wander off and become strays; keep dogs on a leash when you walk them outdoors. If you do let your dogs off leash or your cat out for a stroll, consider having the vet embed an electronic ID chip. It’s a relatively painless process that will help you locate your animal in the event it gets lost.

* Clean up after your pet. Dogs and outdoor cats generate a large amount of fecal waste. You probably won’t be able to find the cat waste, since it’s often buried, but clean up after your dog to reduce foul odors, habitat for flies and other insects, and a big mess if you happen to step in it.

Avoid the following pet phaux-pas:

* Don’t adopt or buy an exotic pet, like a snake, bearded dragon, iguana or other reptile. Smaller reptiles are hard to keep alive. Larger reptiles, like snakes, will soon become too much too handle.

* Don’t release exotic pets into the wild. Most of them cannot survive when they’re left to fend for themselves, especially if they’re used to a warm climate but you release them into the cold. In particular, don’t release large snakes like pythons and boa constrictors; they will quickly decimate local animal populations.

* Don’t overfeed your pet. By some estimates, 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese. Producing all the food that pets eat takes a similar environmental toll as producing food for people. Plus, it’s bad for the animals’ health. Keep your pet alive longer without wasting excessive natural resources by feeding Fido or Fluffy only as much as it needs to stay well.

* Don’t buy from a puppy mill. Don’t encourage ruthless breeders to turn out millions of animals that may never find a home. Most well-treated dogs and cats will be wonderful, loving pets, regardless of their pedigree.

* Don’t follow the fads. Remember, bunnies grow up to be rabbits and chicks turn into chickens. Don’t buy an animal just because it’s Easter and it would be fun to have a live bunny rabbit around!

What recommendations do you have for adopting and raising pets so you can minimize their impact on the environment while still giving them a loving, humane home? Please share!

9 Reasons to Stop Eating Meat in Honor of Earth Day
5 Reasons Not to Buy a Puppy for Christmas


Elisa F
Elisa F2 years ago

Great tips! Rescue/Adopt.

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

It is so simple: always adopt and never buy pets. And, do not own wild animals! Unless you had to rescue a wild animal that can no longer live in the wild and you have the space, and the money to keep the animal.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

.2 years ago

Thanks for compiling such nicest information in your blogs. Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that.Motivational Tips to Keep You Healthy

Mona Pietsch
Mona Pietsch2 years ago


Elaine W.
Past Member 2 years ago

Good common sense guidelines.

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride2 years ago

Good for you, Maggie! Couldn't agree more.

Maggie A.
Maggie D2 years ago

A lot of these articles are preaching to the choir, aren't they? We know these things and we do them!

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.