In 1991, we lost our only child to a rare non-hereditary cancer called Wilm’s tumor. Colette was only 5 years old when she died. But it was the love of her soft furry white adopted pet named Cricket that kept her feeling safe and warm. As parents of a young developing toddler and also caring for her pet in the early nineties, there was little information available about the toxicity of pets products and worse, no information about how their shared living environment and the chemicals associated with these products could jeopardize children’s health. It would take years before science revealed that pets like children are as vulnerable to toxins in the environment.
LuxEcoLiving- Colette Chuda (1986-1991)- photo credit Irena Newton-John for Healthy Child Healthy World
Journey is on a new mission. He wants to protect pets from hazardous chemicals in the environment.
What do pets and kids have in common? Toxins in the environment. In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group revealed that American pets are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns. This study was the first to examine pets as sentinels in the home environment.
Safeguarding Our Pets Too
Today, parents are consumed with information about how to keep their children safe but many are just as concerned about their pets. The study indicates that just as children ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, or breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants, so do their pets. But with their compressed lifespans, developing and aging seven or more times faster than children, pets also develop health problems from exposures much more rapidly. And for anyone who has lost a pet to cancer or another disease potentially linked to chemical exposures, this sentinel role played by pets becomes a devastating personal loss but it can also serve a much greater purpose. Our pets are more than sentinels or laboratory household experiments. They are a part of our family and deserve the same healthy benefits. Prevention through education is key.
Journey is a wonderful companion. We can’t leave home without him. He brings tremendous joy to everyone he meets. Even though he never had the opportunity to be a part of our family when Colette was alive, her love of dogs inspired us to adopt him years later.
Colette Chuda and Smokey at the Snake River Ranch in Jackson Hole Wyoming 1989 (photo credit Elizabeth Hauge Sword)