Let’s kill all our pets?

Since the recent story regarding the boy whose hand was mauled by a ‘fox’ in South London,  urban animals are bearing the brunt of human anger in our contemporary environmental news stories. Today, a 14-year-old girl was found mauled by a pack of ‘aggressive and out of order’ dogs, four of which were put down and are currently being examined for human remains. The notoriously aggressive breeds were alleged to include Staffordshire bull terriers and bull mastiffs. Concurrently, National Geographic have been hosting a debate on the eradication of unwanted feral cats, bringing threats to urban song birds and dangerous diseases like toxoplasmosis.

By Lip Kee from Singapore, Republic of Singapore (pack of dogs upsetting birds.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Lip Kee from Singapore, Republic of Singapore (pack of dogs upsetting birds.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The keeping of domestic animals has a long and ritualised history. With increasing human populations, density of urban living, and popularity of companion animals in the household, the evolution of feral species within that environment is inevitable. Dogs, naturally, will aggregate into packs; any traveller in the streets of underdeveloped cities such as Rio de Janeiro, will engage you with anecdotes of domestic dog packs patrolling the dusty streets. The urban sprawl, in addition, has invaded the habitats of wild species, and animals including the urban fox have thus had to make their homes within our own environments. Whose right is it to pursue them by way of the mistakes we have made?

The Crufts controversy poses similar queries when the infamous dog show was dropped from BBC broadcasting in 2008 after a series of accusations toward the ethical treatment of the health of pedigree dogs. Genetic inbreeding resulting in physical suffering was the creation of human kind; how has a chihuahua descended from its aggressive, wild ancestor, the wolf?

I, Alfredovilla [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

I, Alfredovilla [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

These are concerns that must be addressed by policy makers in the near future in order to ensure a peaceful living with those animals that share the environment we live in. Human-wildlife conflicts are inevitable with a growing population, and will encourage active input from all parties; but in the age of environmentalism and conservation, it is important that these issues are addressed appropriately and carefully, with both sides concerned.