LOS ANGELES (CBS4) – Man’s best friend could slowly be killing the planet.

Researchers at UCLA say pet ownership is linked to climate change. Pet ownership in the U.S. generates 64 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. That’s equivalent to 13 million cars.

Those 163 million dogs and cats produce feces across the country.

If all the waste material from the pets, excluding kitty litter and bags, were thrown away as garbage, it would amount to about 5.1 million tons each year, or about as much as the population of Massachusetts.

UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin says part of the problem comes from owners feeding their pets gourmet products and cuts of meat suitable for humans.

“A dog doesn’t need to eat steak,” Okin said. “A dog can eat things a human sincerely can’t. So what if we could turn some of that pet food into human chow?”

The next issue is getting pet owners to see their furry friends as destroyers of the environment.

“This analysis does not mean to imply that dog and cat ownership should be curtailed for environmental reasons, but neither should we view it as an unalloyed good,” Okin says. “It is clear that a transition to pets that eat less meat, and therefore have less environmental impact, would reduce the overall US consumption of meat.”


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