Fido, fluffy, and wildlife conservation: the environmental consequences of domesticated animals.
Humans have created a strong relationship with cats and dogs by domesticating them. Whether owned by a human or living feral, modern domestic cats and dogs interact extensively with people and the environment. The negative interactions between these domesticated animals and wildlife have been discussed in several reviews, but few reports have provided an overview of both the positive and negative impacts these domesticated animals have on wildlife conservation. Here, we describe the diverse issues associated with domestic cats and dogs and wildlife including predation, competition, pathogen transmission, hybridization, behavioural modification, harvest of wild animals for pet food, and creation of human-wildlife conflict. We then discuss their role in supporting conservation efforts (e.g., use in species identification and tracking, biological control), and shaping our social values towards animals and appreciation for nature. Finally, we suggest necessary steps to harmonize our relationship with cats and dogs and the conservation of wildlife. For owned animals, there is potential for pet owners to support conservation efforts through a 'pet tax' adopted by veterinary clinics and pet stores to be used for wildlife conservation. Moreover, information regarding the impacts of these animals on wildlife and potential solutions (e.g., voluntarily keeping cats and dogs inside or use of "pet curfews", use of bells to alert wildlife to cats) should be made available to owners who are most likely to have an influence on the behaviour of their companion animal.