Tag Archives: Environment

Is it ethical to own a dog?

10 Jun

I have always wanted a dog ever since I was a little girl. However my parents are not pet people so I had to make do with walking and playing with our next door neighbour’s dog as I grew up. Josh and I have always fantasised about our small holding, and having lots of dogs and children has always been a part of our ‘perfect future’.


However, I was talking to my friend the other day who was preparing a seminar on Vegetarianism and she made a comment that made my heart sink…”I’ve been thinking, it doesn’t really seem very ethical to have dog anymore, not now that food prices are rising. How can we spend thousands of pounds on a dog when there are millions of people starving all over the world?” I had never thought of it that way, but I knew that it wasn’t something I could dismiss.


Apparently there are 6.5 million dogs spread across 20% of UK households making them, after cats, Britain’s favourite pet.  Owning a dog will cost you around £1000 a year (and that’s not including those people who spend hundreds on sparkly collars and little cute jumpers for their darling Fluffy – I personally consider this barking). Now, according to my maths, this means that we as a nation are spending around £6b 500m a year on our dogs alone? (surely I have done my sums wrong here?!) Add to that the cost of cleaning up after dog fouling, which according to Keep Britain Tidy statistics costs the UK a further £22m a year. That is a lot of money. I couldn’t find any statistics on how much it would cost to eradicate world poverty but I would guess that this money would make a big dent in it. I know that there are lots of issues with solving world poverty including market crashes and the like – which I won’t try and understand – but it’s the principle. Should we be putting our pets before other people in the world who are living in awful poverty? I just read one shocking article in which someone declared that in a burning building they would rescue their dog instead of a total stranger, just because they didn’t know them, and therefore didn’t care about them so much.

And it’s not just about money is it? Our pets are taking up valuable energy and resources through the food they eat. Realistically the food we give our dogs is probably more nutritious than many in the third world will ever consume.


But I really want a dog! Many people rely on them as well for their work, of if they have a disability, and they are well known for their therapeutic qualities. I was thinking that maybe it would be okay to have a rescue dog, because they are alive anyway and have not been bred especially for you. Maybe this would be a more acceptable option than buying straight from a breeder…


…It’s a tough one and I haven’t really made up my mind. What do you think? Is it ethical to have a pet?