Stop eating dog meat for our children’s sake

Recently, the Internet community in Vietnam witnessed a touching moment of a little girl crying while sitting next to her passed-away friend. More importantly, her best friend was a slaughtered dog being prepared to be ready for the eating.

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The photo was liked and shared by people all over the place in Vietnam in order to warn the Vietnamese themselves to look back at their eating habit. Eating dog meat is not something new in Vietnam due to their style of living is affected by the environments lacking resources.

This topic has been raised by dog and cat lovers several years ago. If we are teaching our children that dog is our best friend, but eating dogs right in front of their eyes. Does that not mean to secretly tell our children eating our best friends is a right thing?

Besides, the children themselves have to suffer a great loss from losing their friend which can lead them to mental disordered issues and extremely affect their behaviors in the future.

The bottom line is to stop eating our children’s friend or else, maybe one day our children will become a butcher just because they witnessed a murdered scene from their past.

The cruelty of human beings

For pet owners, I believe that dogs or cats are not just a pet. These animals have become our friends, our family members, stay with us as a companion, a guardian, a soulmate. And, what would you feel, if one day you see your beloved pet’s throat is hooked by thieves? Just one second not paying attention to your pets, they have become the main ingredient in other people’s dish out there. These thieves still continue to strike fear into the heart of pet owners in Asian countries, where the pet meat eating habit has never been easy to break.

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People say cats and dogs are just animals. But with us, those animals are friends. Nothing can compare with the loss of our pets. It is even more horrific when you see they are caught in front of your bare eyes and even a mere thought of what will happen next makes you shiver already.

They are squeezed in dirty tiny wire cages.

They are suffered from starving, thirsty and mental trauma.

They die during the journey.

They witness their fellow-creatures brutally killed, beaten, skinned, with throats cut open…

We start to feel aversion towards those people, towards those thieves, slaughterhouses, restaurants, traders… We wish they were the one who would suffer the pain instead of our pets.

And the last time we saw the TV news about a dog theft was caught and beaten by villagers, we felt content with the fact that they had paid the price.

We get angry, and feel satisfy when we can give way to that anger. We allow ourselves to become cruel to those thieves because they were cruel to our pets first, but we do not realise they are just the same nature of cruelty.

That moment, we have also become cold-blooded.

At the end of the day, what is the point of eating dog or cat meat, while there is no significant benefit but only triggering fierceness and brutality among human beings?

Unexpected dangers of dog meat.

There’s a truth about dog meat that is usually underestimated, that it can transmit rabies from dogs to people and other animals. Not even workers in slaughterhouse with the high possibility of being bit by dogs, those eaters can easily be affected with the disease causing about 26 to 55 millions deaths worldwide per year. In 2007, Vietnam suffered from a rabies outbreak with approximately 30% of the deaths attributable to the slaughter of dogs for meat. Not only meat derived from dogs with rabies is dangerous, but the meat of those have been vaccinated can also gradually affect human central nervous system over time. The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually 1-3 months, which poses many difficulties to treatment, as once visible symptoms appear, it nearly always results in death.

Another danger when eating dog meat is the possibility of being infected by toxocara canis, or dog roundworm. In addition, infections like E.coli 107 and salmonella, anthrax, brucellosis, etc. can also be spread through the meat to people.

The meat served in dog meat restaurants is usually taken from many sources. Many of them are poisoned and stolen pets. Dog thieves usually use the extreme poison in order to kill these victim animals immediately. These poisoning substances might still remain in the meat, even after cooking, which is considered to be significantly hazardous for human consumption.

Regarding nutritions in dog meat, it is a rich source of protein, yet turns out to be risky if consumed by people with record of gout or hepatitis. Besides, pregnant women eating dog meat can lead to the increase of acid uric, which will be harmful for the foetus.

The need of legislation

In fact, the practice of eating dog or cat meat is basically not against the rule, as well as people can have their rights to choose food sources according to their needs. It is similar to the way there are countries where people do not eat beef, or there are religions does not allow to eat pork. Because the practice is considered as part of culture, there is a large number of people that do not really enjoy this dog meat dish, but they strongly believe that it is the right of others to do so. However, in countries like Korea, Vietnam and China, where there is an apparent contradiction between the needs of pet meat eaters and those of animal lovers, the role of legislation has become more significant than ever. If one day the same scenario happens with duck or chicken (perhaps keeping them as pet will be popularised at some point in the future), it would be necessary to apply sets of social rules and governmental legislation to balance those needs. Initially, pets like cat and dog should be considered as personal assets hence the act of stealing pets will be put to serious trial. This hopefully can help improving the situation.

Korea seems to be the most ethical one among the three countries when it comes to the practice of eating pet meat. In Korean language, there are two different terms that distinguish “pet dog” and those dogs are used for meat. Unlike in China and Vietnam, where most consumed dog meat is derived from stolen pets, there are many official dog farms such as Nureongi or Hwangu. This by-product, in fact, helps preventing individual pets from illegally getting caught by thieves, while ensures food safety for those eaters. But still, these dog farms have raised other issues of sanitary and how the dogs are treated. Dog meat has no legal status as food in this country, so these farms take place in a legal grey area. As a result, there are no regulations requiring the human slaughter of dogs for meat.

Perhaps this is not the most significant issues within a nation or a society, but as there have been several cases reported that dog and cat thieves were beaten into death by the pet owner and surrounding villagers, there is a strong need for the government to initiate more effective legislations towards the pet meat eating practice.

The difference between dog meat trade in China, Vietnam and Korea

While three countries all have the highest records amongst regions eating dogs as part of their cultural habits, dog meat trade in Korean seems to be a bit more humane than in China and Vietnam.

Although there are many dog meat restaurants are operating in Vietnam, there is nothing so-called ‘dog farm’ in this country until now. Most dogs to be butchered are stolen from the streets and this fact is obviously known by the eaters. The picture of dog meat trade is also similar in China. During Yulin, the annual festival of eating dog meat in China, it is believed that slaughtered dogs are mainly stolen pets despite the claim from the suppliers, insisting that these dogs are specifically raised for the purpose of eating only. The evidence of many dog collars found in the slaughter house has proved that the claim is just a way to deflect public criticism. As a result, many gangs of dog thief are doing really ‘good’ business barbarically, by trapping, bailing and stealing pets and re-selling them to the restaurants in these countries. Even worse, there have been several cases reported, that these thieves are caught and beaten to death by the pet owners and other villagers.

A dog thief is caught and bound by a group of Chinese villagers. Source: Daily Mail

In the end, the dog meat eating habit is not only inhumane in the way our pets is caught and butchered by evil-doers, but also inhumane in the way it triggers anger and fierceness inside us. It is not to argue whether killing a pet is more or less ethical than putting a man to death, but to emphasise the fact that, if we ever feel sorry for a loss of human life, feel the same for other animals co-existing with us on this planet as well.

Phuong Pham

Why people eat dogs and cats?

One of the reasons that dogs and cats are still consumed as food in several countries is the perception people have towards them.  Historically, dogs are raised for the purpose of hunting, herding, pulling loads, or protection, while cats are raised because of their ability to hunt vermin. They apparently do not have as high social position as in Western society. Even those are kept as pets in Asian countries, in general, are still treated as a ‘domesticated animal’ rather than a companion. Additionally, the tradition and culture in the East believe that mankind is the most powerful and intelligent creature in the universe. Hence, they give themselves the right to abuse other ‘lower-class’ animals. This explains why animals in the East are more likely to be mistreated by many means than those are in the West.

Another argument that dog or cat meat ‘lovers’ tend to use is, why there should be a discrimination between different types of animals. If one can eat chicken, pork or lamb, so why they cannot eat dog or cat meat? And even when kangaroo meat starts to be found in every supermarket in Australia, what is the limit to justify ‘to eat or not to eat’ a species? These pet meat eaters also claim that according to their cultural belief, eating meat derived from dogs and cats will bring good luck or health. In Chinese tradition, cat meat is the main ingredient in the traditional dish “dragon, tiger, phoenix” (snake, cat, chicken), which is said to fortify the body. In Vietnam, people think that dog meat will bring good fortune. There is also a superstition that it has medicinal properties and helps warming up the human body, especially in winter. For this reason, dogs are sometimes clubbed cruelly or beaten into death before being cooked, as it is thought that the more adrenalin circulates in the dog body, the more fresh and flavour is the meat.

One of the many difficulties when tackling the problem is that, the habit of eating these animals’ meat is considered as a part of culture and has been practiced for generations in these areas. Hence, older men are normally main consumers, especially in rural areas. It is a real struggle to change their attitude because of their conservative mind as well as they are not tech-savvy enough to be engaged effectively by social media.

Phuong Pham

Cats await their own death in the slaughterhouse, while watching others are slaughtered in front of them. Source: AP/Humane Society International

Dog and Cat Meat Consumption – Stop the Taboo

Welcome to “Stop the Taboo”, a social media campaign aiming to raise people’s awareness and alter their attitude towards dog and cat meat consumption in modern 21st century. Although dogs and cats has been used as food in times of war or other hardships, this practice is increasingly considered as a horrific eating habit and against the evolution of mankind. My campaign chooses to target China, Vietnam and Korean as three nations consuming most of these pets meat in the world, especially when this phenomena has become traditional or daily cuisine in these regions. My campaign hopes to contribute to the mutual ongoing effort of other activists, who are attempting to stop this pet meat eating taboo.

Poor dogs are captured in cage. Source: IDS USA
Poor dogs are captured in cage.
Source: IDS USA <http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/dogs-cats/dogs-and-cats-of-south-korea/&gt;

Together, we can make a change.