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Is having a pet worse for the planet than flying on a private jet?

This week I was asked to stick up for the pets for an interview on the Spectator podcast.

Their travel writer, Sean Thomas, said: “If you own a cat or dog while still whining about ‘the environment,’ you are that unpleasant thing: a hypocrite.”

He highlighted how Patrick Hansen, the boss of Luxaviation, a private jet firm, had claimed the average private jet customer is responsible for about the same emissions of carbon dioxide as someone who owns three medium-sized dogs.

Digging into the data, I found the average dog creates 770kg of CO2 per year and the average cat 310kg, according to Mike Berners Lee, a carbon footprint expert.

Meanwhile, the average private jet customer is responsible for 3.3 tonnes and for those clients who take up to five flights a year, it’s more than 11 tonnes.

Everything we do has a cost to the planet. And while our pets are responsible for carbon emissions, there’s plenty we can do as responsible pet parents to mitigate this.

Plus many things pets bring to our lives that jets don’t. 

So these are my thoughts on Pets versus Jets

And if you fancy a listen to the podcast, skip to 25 mins in here:

Pet owners don’t fly as much

I know as a dog mum, I’ve pretty much stopped going abroad. I’d rather holiday in the UK, particularly since we have Sunnyside Cottage.

This reduces any damage I’d be doing by flying and means I can be with Patch. I also walk more and drive less while away.

Find out more about Sunnyside Cottage A dog owner’s guide to Robin Hood’s Bay and Sunnyside Cottage

Yes, dogs ARE allowed on the beds at Sunnyside Cottage!

We have a responsibility to be considerate pet owners

Let’s talk waste. Dogs produce as much poo as five million homes, and it’s grim. In the Spectator piece, Sean talks about this going into our water and ecosystem.

We have a duty to clean up after our animals. To not do this is vile, impacts on society as a whole and gives pet owners a bad name.

Compostable poo bags can mitigate the damage plastic does to the planet, and these are far more affordable now.

Check out our compostable poo bag reviews Best compostable poo bags for dogs

Check out how the different bags measure up

Let’s talk about meat

Meat has a large environmental impact, and makes up more of our pet’s diets than humans.

According to Greenpeace: “The climate impact of meat is enormous – roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck and plane in the world.

“When forests are destroyed to produce industrial meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.”

**Should dogs be veggie or vegan? That’s another debate, but before we lay into pets eating meat, we need to look at our own consumption.**

On a positive, the natural treat market does mean that very few parts of the animal go to waste. Yes to those ears, trotters and pizzles.

And check out this cutie with a b****ock lolly from

Hugo with his tasty treat

If you can, adopt

The pandemic saw a huge rise in the pet population, with 3.2 million pets bought in 2020, and now rescues are picking up the pieces.

If you’re in a position to adopt, this is going to make a difference to the planet, and give an animal a second chance of happiness.

That’s surely better than hopping on a plane.

UNLESS, you go on holiday and adopt an animal while you’re there. There are some incredible people working in rescue overseas.

Read about Zante Strays here Kind hearted Jeff gives Zante Strays £4,000 boost

Read about Janey Lowes work in Sri Lanka here Janey Lowes – why I’m saving Sri Lanka’s Street Dogs

Jeff Dunkley and Jamie Contonis at Zante Strays

Pets bring joy to millions, jets a small elite

Over half, 53% of the population have a pet in the UK. We have 11 million dogs and 11 million cats and 29% own a dog and 24% a cat according to the PDSA PAW report 2023

Meanwhile, Luxaviation flew 67,000 passengers in 2022. There are a lot more smiles on the faces of pet owners than fancy jet setters.

And an Oxfam report in 2020 revealed the richest 10% accounted for 52% of carbon emissions.

Medical Detection Dogs are working with Parkinson's patients
One of Claire’s talented Medical Detection Dogs at work

Pets make a difference

AI said the purpose of private jets is: “An exclusive mode of air transportation, offering unparalleled efficiency, convenience, and privacy. It allows passengers to travel on their own schedule, access a wider range of airports, and conduct business or relax without the presence of strangers.

“Private jets also provide a level of luxury and comfort beyond commercial flights. They play crucial roles in medical evacuations, emergency response, and disaster relief efforts.

“Overall, private jets enhance convenience, flexibility, and personalisation in air travel, making them valuable for high-profile individuals, businesses, and organisations with specific travel needs.”

This is what it said about the purpose of pets: “Pets serve as cherished companions, providing emotional support, reducing loneliness, and offering unconditional love. They encourage physical activity, reduce stress, and bring routine and responsibility into their owners’ lives.

“Pets also promote social interaction, mental stimulation, and a sense of purpose. They can offer a sense of security and protection, and their loyalty and unconditional love enrich the lives of their owners in countless ways.”

Finally, we have incredible working dogs. Guide dogs, Hearing dogs, Autism dogs, Police dogs, Army dogs, Medical Alert Dogs, Medical Detection Dogs, Pets As Therapy, Wag and Co dogs tackling loneliness, Canine Perspective rescue dogs supporting survivors of sexual violence, dogs living with people on the street being a lifeline.

StreetPaws work with dogs living on the streets with homeless guardians

I could go on and on and on, but I think pets win over jets.

What are your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

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Further reading on dog-friendly travel

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