Sustainable Dog Breeding
Sustainability experts, Brenda and Robert Vale, from the Victoria University Wellington School of Architecture, determined that it takes roughly 0.84 hectares of land to feed a medium-sized dog. In contrast, to build a 4.6L Toyota Land Cruiser and run it for 10,000km a year required only 0.41 hectares. A cat’s eco-footprint was estimated to be that of a Volkswagen Golf.
We do our best to reduce the carbon footprint by making sustainable choices wherever ever can.
Some of the things we do are simple and obvious (biodegradable poo bags – duh!) and some less so, like raw feeding. Breeders may not consider raw feeding a “footprint reducing activity”, but consider the majority of dog food sold in NZ is imported, while the raw dog food company Raw Essentials won NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards back in 2012, so the link between raw feeding and sustainability is well established.
There are so many activities related to dog breeding and showing that leave a large carbon footprint – travelling long distances to shows on a regular basis being among the most obvious.
As a sport we will always struggle to achieve carbon neutrality. But remember the Land Cruiser? 10,000 klm is still a smaller footprint than the family dog.
Maybe we need to start planting a tree every time we head off to an away-show.
Or get rid of our Volkswagen Golf… ahem, the cat. Pretty sure the dogs would be up for that.
Here are the small ways we are reducing our carbon footprint at Kitaco:
Reusable puppy pads
We use puppy pads that can be washed and reused rather than plastic disposable pee mats. Not only are they more environmentally friendly and cost less in the long run, but the puppers can’t shred them (and eat bits!!) for fun.
Biodegradable Poo Bags
A no-brainer, really. They cost the same as other bags and break down in composting over a period of 30 days, rather than hundreds of years.
$700M worth of pre-packaged dog food is imported into NZ every year, making the carbon footprint very high for commercially produced kibble and tinned food. Not only is there a huge transport footprint, but the packaging generates a massive amount of non-recyclable waste. Local brands have a smaller carbon footprint due to the shorter distances the food travels from producer to consumer, but has similar production and packaging issues.
Locally sourced raw food not only helps the environment by providing a market for pest species like rabbits and possums, it’s better for our dogs with a high nutritional value resulting in less animal waste (smaller, less-smelly poops!). And it comes in recyclable cardboard packaging.
We use Oxygen Bleach to clean, well, everything
Bleach is by far the best biocide around, but chlorine bleach is harmful to aquatic life if it gets into the water system. We changed from chlorine bleach to oxygen bleach and have never looked back. Not only is it cheaper, it turns to water and oxygen when broken down, so it has no negative impact to the environment
We have relocatable dog runs
We relocate our outside areas every few months on a rotating cycle to let the vegetation recover from the relentless onslaught of dog pee. This also helps with parasite control and is more environmentally enriching for the dogs, who have great fun whenever we reconfigure their play area, discovering all the new smells, surfaces, nooks and crannies, not to mention testing the fences to see if they can finally escape, so they can chase the ducks and the bunnies who torment them by brazenly grazing on the other side of the barrier in broad daylight.
We wash our dog beds at the Laundromat
Rather than run multiple washes through our 7kg home machine, we take all our dog bedding (and toys) to the nearby Laundromat once or twice a month and use their 28kg front loading machine reserved for animal bedding. This uses less water, less detergent and less electricity.