Pets CAN be environmentally friendly! This is the message from the Animal Welfare League Qld this World Environment Day.

AWLQ are trying to dispel the myth that being a pet owner and caring for the environment, are mutually exclusive, with their ‘Eco-Pets’ campaign.

“It is possible to have an ‘environmentally friendly’ cat or dog,” says AWLQ Campaigns Manager, Zoe Hermans.

“If you adopt a shelter pet, you have already made an environmentally friendly choice straight up. With a just a little extra effort though, you can make sure your pet has no negative impacts on the natural environment once you get him home and for the rest of his life.”

AWLQ say that by following their 5-step guide to owing an eco-pet, pets and the natural environment can co-exist peacefully.

“There is no need to shun pet ownership just because you are worried about the impact on the environment, as some trends, such as the eco-village estates, are encouraging people to do.”

The rise in popularity of ‘green’ or ‘eco’ housing estates, which ban cat and dog ownership, is a worrying trend for the AWLQ.

“Our shelter already takes in thousands of displaced dogs and cats due to owners moving house and being unable to keep their pets in rental properties. This trend of estates banning pets will only increase the number of animals being surrendered to shelters. It will also gradually see pet ownership decrease in our community, resulting in less potential adoptive homes for our dogs and cats.”

AWLQ are keen to point out that the responsibility is squarely on pet owners, and as long as you are willing to take these five ‘eco-friendly’ steps, you can help both homeless animals AND the environment.

AWLQ’s 5 steps to owning an ‘Eco-Pet’:

  1. Ensure your dog or cat is microchipped, desexed and is up to date with its vaccinations. This will help reduce strays, which can cause harm to wildlife, as well as reduce the pressure on shelters and pounds.
  2. Keep your cat’s outside time restricted to daylight hours. Over 80% of Australia’s native Fauna is nocturnal, therefore, keeping your cat indoors at night will dramatically reduce the risk of your cat catching and killing/injuring native wildlife.
  3. Keep your dog contained in a safe yard and on-leash when walking in bush and parkland. Contrary to popular belief, dogs can be as harmful to wildlife as domestic cats. Allowing your dog to roam free in native wildlife habitats can be potentially harmful (not to mention stressful) to many native species. Dogs are particularly fond of chasing and killing native lizards, fowl (like ducks and sea-birds), and small mammals such as possums and bandicoots.
  4. Use and eco-friendly cat litter that can be mulched into your garden after it’s done, rather than thrown into landfill. A good and inexpensive brand to use is ‘Oz-Pet’, available in large economy bags from most good pet stores (and from AWLQ Gold Coast Rehoming Centre’s shop!). Also, whilst on the topic of toileting; pick up your dog’s poo when you take him out – don’t pollute our beautiful parks and beaches because you’re too lazy to bag and bin it!
  5. Be conscious of food packaging when making choices about what to feed your pet. Avoid overly processed, individually packaged food products. Not only are these types of pet foods high in preservatives and bad for your pet, they are bad for the environment with the excess packaging that’s used adding to landfill. There are many simple, quick recipes for making your own pet food out of meat off-cuts that you can get from a butcher at little to no cost, which work out to be healthier, tastier and more economical than the store-bought products!