Posted by: petsweekly | March 21, 2011

The Economy & Stupid Studies

Okay – I’m open minded. I like the occasional quirky study.  But the other day, I read a headline and I have to say – even I think these studies are getting ridiculous.  The study that triggered this epiphany was about dogs, and the headline was (I quote):

“Dog walkers get more exercise than most pet owners.”


What an absolutely astute finding. Honestly, did a group of podiatrists sit around a lab for years and monitor the movements of dog walkers as they traversed the steep inclines and perilous footing of dog parks?

I suppose I shouldn’t be so tough on them. I mean, podiatrists do study feet and it’s not like there’s anyone out there dying of a foot problem, right?

Maybe, then, it does make perfect sense for Time Magazine – a magazine which in its very title implies that time is fleeting and one should value every moment – I suppose it makes sense that Time would write an extensive article on the findings of this study.

It’s true.

According to Time Magazine, “A study last year from the University of Missouri showed that for getting exercise, dogs are better walking companions than humans. In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted-living home, some people selected a friend or spouse as a walking companion, while others took a bus daily to a local animal shelter, where they were assigned a dog to walk.” Etc., etc.

So – let me get this straight.. People who volunteer to walk dogs get more exercise than their 54-year-old assisted-living neighbors.

Who would have guessed the results of that study? !

On an entirely unrelated subject (not really),  I watched the news last week.  Now, I try not to make a habit of doing this as it’s generally far more depressing than I can handle, but I did watch it last week. The first thing I heard about were the dramatic budget cuts for two of my favorite things:  Education and Wildlife.

That’s right. Arizona just reduced educational funding for K-12 schools by millions. To be exact, they cut $172 million from K-12 schools, $65 million from universities and $67 million from health programs and social services. Interestingly enough, they did the same thing last year. And the year before. And… well, you get the picture.

Then there are the three bills that are targeting wildlife; wolves and other endangered species, in particular.  On February 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Budget Continuing Resolution HR 1 by a vote of 235-189. The measure now moves to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.

There are two more bills sitting in congress waiting approval and both have the power to devastate wildlife. Now, by the time I get this written, it’s entirely possible that the bills will have already passed or been thrown out, but it’s important that we know they are in existence.

One of these is SB 1392. This allows the allows the governor to enter into an interstate compact on wolves, and attempts to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list. This seems a little premature considering their are only 50 Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.  Apparently, our government is moving backwards. The bill not only conveniently fails to consider the federal standards standards of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). You know, that’s the act that tells us we have to make decisions to PROMOTE the recovery of a species, not make it a misdemeanor (downgraded from a felony) to kill an animal that is endangered.  This passed the Senate on 3/2/11 with a vote of 21-8-1.

The second bill, HCM2002, adds insult to injury. This is the bill that tells us we have “failed” to successfully “recover” a species and therefore should just give up the ghost. That’s right. Just save a few specimens for a museum and call it a day. That happy little bill passed out of the house and now awaits Senate action.

This infuriates me. Especially when we have universities spending money on stupid polls and ridiculous research. Like how dog walkers get more exercise than non dog walkers. Or how sleeping with pets can “kill you.” (Just two years ago, the Mayo Clinic released a study about how sleeping with your pets only “disrupts your sleep” but is actually good for you). For every study that’s done, I can show you two that have come to an opposite conclusion.

Follow my logic here (what little of it there is): Colleges and universities obtain much of the funding for these stupid studies through grants. The majority of grants (millions of $ worth) come from the government. The government is funded by taxpayers. We are taxpayers. So – shouldn’t we have a say in which grants are doled out and have some sort of input on the type of projects we want funded?

I don’t know… Maybe it’s just me, but I think if we’re going to make cuts in government spending, we may want to start with these ridiculous studies and leave the budgets for our education system and wildlife alone.

But, that’s just the opinion of a lowly writer… What’s your opinion?


  1. It’s long been a pet peeve of mine how so much money is wasted on studies like these when funds to things like schools, public safety, etc are cut.

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