For decades, Bob Barker ended “The Price Is Right” show with the words “Help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered.” His replacement, Drew Carey, has continued the tradition. And the world seems to agree. You’re not a responsible pet owner unless you have Fido fixed so that he/she can never reproduce.
Beyond wondering why Barker and Carey would use their very public forum with such a large audience to advocate for such a trivial issue, I’m also perplexed that economists haven’t spoken out against this movement. After all, economists believe that rampant human population growth drives economic growth. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that unlimited growth in the pet population would do the same?
Think about it. Every new pet would consume more dog food and cat food, more dog houses and cages, more collars and leashes, more chew toys and catnip, and more veterinary services – including a booming business in euthanizing them at the end. Sales of plastic baggies for scooping poop would soar. Soiled carpeting would need to be replaced, as would chewed-up shoes. Even strays would contribute to the economy with an expanded need for dog catchers and dog-pounds, not to mention shovels and incinerators to dispose of them. They’d be a great source of food for some cultures. Just imagine the boost to the economy! How could the government have missed all of this in the economic stimulus package?
I don’t understand this species-oriented double standard. What are economists afraid of? That the pet populations could grow to the point where they’d consume all of the planet’s food resources? That they’ll lap up all the fresh water? That the planet’s remaining oil resources will be consumed in making plastic chew toys? That the pet population will become so dense that the per capita consumption of cages will begin to decline? Don’t be ridiculous! Their human owners are ingenious enough to devise new technology to conquer all these obstacles to further growth in the pet population. After all, that’s what economists believe about the human population. How can we be smart enough to devise technological solutions to human overpopulation but too dumb to manage additional cats and dogs?
I’m afraid there’s only one conclusion that we can draw from all of this: that economists hate cats and dogs. Great, just what the rest of us needed – one more reason to hate economists.