Lol, New Zealander's collectively own over 5 million pets! A survey by New Zealand Companion Animal Council says we have 1,400,000 cats and 700,000 dogs, the remainder being birds, rabbit, fish, etc etc. I'm amazed!
The Council's report emphasises the benefits to humans of this hoard of rovers, moggys, bunnies etc. We enjoy having them in our homes (some of us don't). They apparently give us "therapeutic and physiological benefits and help children develop respect, a sense of responsibility, cognitive skills, sensitivity and self esteem". All good stuff but what about the costs?
The dogs and cats alone support an $1.5B industry providing for food, veterinary and health care products. That doesn't include the costs of pet housing, sewage, policing, SPCA, and hospital care for people injured by pet attacks - probably at least another $500M.
But here is the real cost. Each dog is estimated to have the eco-footprint equivalent to the impact of building and fueling two toyota land cruisers. A cat equates to a VW Golf (www.physorg.com/news176582720.html). Crikey, dogs and cats well exceed the eco-footprint of our 2,232,915 car fleet (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport in New Zealand).
This situation is ridiculous and too much to bear for those of us who don't have pets. This a world of polluter pays. I propose a pet tax (the PT) to cover their eco-footprint and other costs to society. The PT should be levied on every can of pet food and set at a rate at least equivalent to the 3c/litre tax on vehicle fuel. Based on NZ's annual consumption of 5300M litres of petrol and diesel, the PT should generate $159M (http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/MultipageDocumentPage____10297.aspx). Now, I haven't thought about ACC. I hope Phil Goff reads this - the Labour Party wants new taxes.
The next time some dog owning do-gooder criticises my cherished land cruiser, they'll get an instant retort.