Driving these machines is not the same as walking your dog.
Driving these machines is not the same as walking your dog. mervas/shutterstock.com

I learned from a friend who teaches chemistry at the University of Washington that her colleague—meaning, a scientist; meaning, a professor in biology; meaning, a highly educated person—actually believes in and pushes the old meme that owning an SUV is the same as owning a dog.

There is just no way this can true. It's so obvious that the infrastructure that maintains SUVs and other cars comes nowhere near that which supports all of our pets. And this does not include the massive cost of the military bases and wars in oil-producing regions of the world ("Middle East oil security cost U.S. $7.3T over last three decades"). Furthermore, only one of the five largest companies in the US sells dog food—and lots and lots of other things. The rest sell cars or fuel for cars. But if you need to read the mathematical facts about cars and dogs, go here.

Three points to close with: One, dog food is basically food humans do not want to eat. Two, the thing to consider is that, for sure, a dog in Africa has a far smaller eco-footprint than a dog in the US. But the same is true for humans and all other animals close to them (even syanthropic animals like crows—in the US, they often suffer from clogged arteries and other complications related to the consumption of foods processed with a lot of energy).

And Lastly, cars worsen the health of Americans (crashes, pollution, obesity), while dogs encourage and need to be walked. Indeed, the only time many Americans go for walks is with their walk-loving hounds. Which, by the way, reminds me of a much better and more truthful SUV/dog meme from back in the day.