In this guide, we outline some key information about the dog meat trade.
We also outline some potential solutions that might help stop the dog meat trade (the eating and selling of dog meat).
The Dog Meat Trade – What To Know, & How To Help Stop It
Major Issues Related To Dog Meat
Some of the major issues related to the dog meat trade that can be raised by people and groups are:
- The eating of dog meat
- The selling of dog meat (from either farmed, or stolen/smuggled dogs)
- Not recognizing dogs as companion animals that should be given special status which makes them exempt from slaughter and eating
- The inhumane or cruel treatment of dogs which involves unnecessary suffering, or even torture, such as boiling or burning alive, flaying, beating, poisoning, electrocution, and so on (some might believe these practices adds to the flavor of the meat)
Why Some Countries/Cultures Eat Dog Meat
For some cultures and countries, eating of dog meat might be related to:
- History (for example, in China, the eating of dog meat has some roots in the Great Chinese Famine where starvation was widespread, and dog meat became a luxury. So, older generations may see it as more normal, and be appreciative and grateful for any type of meat)
- Generational gaps and differences in views between the different generations – the consensus in morals and views of older generations might be that dog meat is no different to pork, lamb or beef
- Economic conditions of a country, or the non-availability of other food resources
- Profitability of selling smuggled dog meat, as opposed to farmed dogs, in some countries (Vietnam is one example – scmp.com)
- Superstitious belief or general belief that dog meat is a health tonic
Essentially, cultural histories and differences between countries can be a big factor.
Countries That Eat Dog Meat
Some of the main countries that might eat dog food today are (according to Wikipedia.org):
- China (the Yulin)
- South Korea,
- and Switzerland
It’s important to note too though – not everyone eats dogs, or shares the belief that dogs should be eaten across an entire country.
- … the practice of eating dog meat in China is not that common – the majority of Chinese people have never done so and say they don’t want to (bbc.com)
- In China, 20 per cent of the population still eat dog meat (scmp.com)
- In South Korea, 60 per cent of the people eat dog meat regularly … although another survey found only 30 per cent of South Koreans eat dog (scmp.com)
How Many Dogs Are Killed Per Year?
In Asia alone:
- Thirty million dogs a year are killed across Asia for meat, says Humane Society International (HSI)
China and South Korea are major contributors:
- [the dog meat trade]kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year (bbc.com)
- In South Korea … five million dogs are slaughtered each year (although other reports say only 1 million) (scmp.com)
Vietnam is another major contributor – ‘More than 80 per cent of Vietnamese eat dog meat, a bigger proportion than anywhere else, making them responsible for the slaughter of some 10 million dogs a year’ (scmp.com)
Legal To Eat, But Not Sell Dog Meat In Some Countries
Some people may not know that it is only illegal to sell dog meat, but not illegal to eat it in their country:
- … most people in Australia don’t know that it is legal to eat dog meat in most states and territories except South Australia, however it is illegal to sell dog meat in any state and territories.
- … depending on interpretation of the law, it is still legal to eat dog meat in 43 of the states in the U.S., and yes, it happens
- California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia are the only states that explicitly outlawed dog meat
- It is, however, illegal in all states for slaughterhouses to handle dogs, and it’s illegal for stores to sell the meat.
Potential Hypocrisy Of Morals In Eating Animal Meat
Some people in countries that eat dog meat might point out that other countries eat the meat of important animals, or slaughter other animals in an inhumane way to eat them or use them for fur.
Two examples of this are countries that eat their national animal emblem, or countries that harpoon whales, or club seals.
theconversation.com also presents some moral arguments realted to the eating of dog meat.
Stopping The Selling & Eating Dog Meat – Potential Solutions
Some of the potential solutions to stopping the dog meat trade might be:
- Laws and regulations forbidding the consumption of dog meat, and selling of dog meat
Laws could for example give special status to dogs as companion animals, and make them exempt from eating, farming, and selling for meat or other products.
Although, it should be mentioned that making dog meat illegal can lead to other problems like dog meat smuggling (and it is believed there has been smuggling of dogs from neighbouring countries of Vietnam such as China, Thailand and Cambodia to meet demand – scmp.com).
Some argue that a worldwide ban on both traders and consumers is the only way to go, as those who consume dog meat will bring dog meat smuggling with them wherever they emigrate (scmp.com)
Laws not only need to be introduced, but, they also need to be enforced properly.
Confusing/gray laws need to be cleared up too (usatoday.com)
- Animal protection agencies and groups – can lobby, set up petitions, and put pressure on governments, events, and organisations
The Humane Society International (HSI) is an example of one such agency, as well as World Dog Alliance (WDA as another
Other groups rescue dogs and send them to new safe homes – SaveKoreanDog.Org is an example of this. People can help these organisations by volunteering for them, and/or donating money to them.
Individuals also have the ability to contact local, State and Federal government representatives and push for certain dog meat laws and regulations.
Undercover investigations of restaurants, animal markets, and suspected slaughterhouses and farms can also help.
The navy and other protection agencies can help with cutting off dog meat smuggling into countries.
- Allow time to pass
If older generations hold beliefs and morals that it’s ok to eat dog meat, but younger generation don’t – time will mean that older generation will pass on, and new cultural norms of newer generation will be established
- Economic growth
When there are more jobs overall, and more profitable jobs other than selling dog meat, as well as more resources including food available to majority of the population, less people will theoretically sell dog meat.
From one perspective – it is hard to expect people trapped in poverty or economically difficult conditions to give up activities that provide them food or money, when other better employment options and ways to provide for themselves and their families aren’t widely available.
- More awareness in media, and for the general public about dog meat
More media might be produced in countries where dog meat selling and consumption is an issue that other types of meats are available to eat, and that eating these other meats would still mean that no one starves, and no one’s health would suffer
It should be noted that some personal preferences or cultural traditions and norms might be hard to break in some countries in regards to dog slaughter.
Some Progress On The Dog Meat Trade
Some cities are now banning the trade and/or consumption of dog meat:
- [On May 1st 2020, Shenzen in China introduced a law banning the] the trade and consumption of wild animals [as well as dogs and cats. It was linked to the corona virus outbreak]
- The South Korean mindset toward dogs began changing in the 1980s and ’90s as the nation grew wealthier and Western influence increased.
- Younger Koreans began advocating for abolishment of dog farms
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