An independent member for Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council has responded to the criticism of his discussions around suggesting that pets damage the environment.
On 5 January, BCP Council held a scrutiny committee meeting addressing the climate action’s annual report in which Cllr Mark Howell attended.
Since, he has received a huge amount of backlash and criticism over his decision to bring up the idea of how owning a pet can affect the environment.
In an interview with Mr Howell, he explained how he only intended to bring awareness to the idea of pet ownership becoming an issue as no one has brought this up before.
He said: “There has been an attitude in the environmental community where you can’t say things that people won’t like because you’ll put them off but if you don’t say these things, they won’t change their behaviour.”
This comes after there has been a huge wave of national coverage accusing Cllr Howell of wanting pets to be banned.
Although he has received hate and become a target for media outlets and the public, he explained how surprised he has been that so many people who own pets have realised they’ve never thought of the issues surrounding this.
He continued: “People have interpreted what they have read from other sources rather than reading my direct statements.
“There have been certain media markets that are using what I said as an opportunity, twisting my statements as I did not discuss the want to ban pets and none of these papers have attempted to contact me for a quote or before publishing so their information has been retrieved from a secondary source somewhere.”
In the meeting he discussed how there is a significant impact on admissions from owning a pet in terms of what they eat and where the food comes from.
Cllr Howell is calling for this to be recognised and have people who understand how to quantify these admissions to include them in all calculations to allow individuals to take personal responsibility for reducing their own carbon footprint.
The lack of forms of emotional support in society plays a huge role in people owning pets.
Cllr Howell said: “This underlines a much bigger issue, due to the extreme economic model that we live under we are deprived of social spaces, and we are encouraged to spend time online rather than physically socialising.
“The bonds just aren’t there within the community to offer people support, therefore people turn to pets.”
You can view the Scrutiny Committee meeting here: