There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the negative impact that free-roaming cats have on wildlife populations. So just to be fair, here’s some food for thought: according to a recent study, free-roaming dogs aren’t exactly saints, either.

From this story on
“…a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford reminds that domestic dogs are also killers and disease-spreaders that can pose conservation problems when they’re allowed to roam. It’s difficult to generalize the ecological impact of the world’s estimated 700 million domestic dogs since they are treated very differently across cultures — some kept in handbags, others chained outside or left to stray. In any case, the researchers say that free-roaming dogs (ones without an owner or otherwise left to run free) are thought to account for about 75 percent of the global dog population and their interactions with other animals can be problematic. Oxford researchers Joelene Hughes and David W. Macdonald reviewed 69 studies on canine-wildlife relations in rural areas. All but three of these articles found that dogs had a negative impact, mostly due to predation.”

Well, no kidding. Does it really take an exhaustive review of 69 scientific studies to figure that out? Of course feral and free-roaming dogs will have a negative impact on wildlife. I still maintain that cats are a much, much larger problem than dogs; not only because there’s an ingrained attitude much more prevalent among cat owners than dog owners that it’s somehow OK to let your cats roam, but due to the fact that cats are much more efficient predators than dogs — they’re more fecund and they more readily adapt to a feral lifestyle.

I guess the point is, don’t let your pets roam, regardless of whether you’re a cat person or a dog person. Which brings up an interesting question: If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, do you let your gundogs have free reign of your place?