Dog and cat meat trade: The future of the battle

The unsound custom of eating dog and cat meat has been brought to debate for decades and has achieved considerable outcomes. It is facing strong criticism from across the globe as well as in those countries that remain this habit. The young generation is exposed to the internet more significantly than their parents, hence they usually see cats and dogs as companions and friends rather than merely as domestic animals and a type of food.  The real success of many campaigns within the cause is not only changing people’s attitude but also persuading them to act via protests, donations, animal rescue groups, volunteer associations, petitions, etc. Remarkably, there are more than three million people have signed petitions to stop Yulin, the annual festival of eating dog meat in China.

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Although many people who advocate the practice argue that it is a part of their culture and other regions should respect this difference, no cultural value should be involved with cruelty and against the evolution of mankind like that. In fact, no culture is stagnant; it evolves and progresses.

As a result, many activists and NGOs attempting to change people’s perception about the dog and cat meat trade have a really optimistic belief that this practice will be diminished and totally disappear someday. In fact, the attempt to tackle this issue has made a critical step to decline dog meat sales by a third in 2014, in comparison to the previous year There are many dog/cat meat serving restaurants have closed, even in those cities considered hubs of dog meat cuisine, partly because of the decreasing demand, partly because these restaurants’ owners are afraid of karma . However, the issue remains unresolved when millions of these pets are still killed for their meat every year. More effort from activists is still needed to completely end this taboo.

Money vs. Morality

The reason why dog and cat meat trade has never been stopped completely is the enormous profit came from this barbaric industry. Especially in China, local government officials are evaluated by their superiors on GDP growth. However, not all of them are able to meet these growth targets, especially in remote and poor regions. As a result, many awkward money-making schemes have been ‘invented’, for example, cultural events designed in a way to boost the local economy with tourism.

The situation has happened in Yulin. Prior to the Yulin festival, it has never been a part of mainstream Chinese culture and has no famous historical figures or events to make use of. People then came up with a ‘dog meat and lychees’ tradition to attract tourists and investment. Yulin now is obviously much more famous than before, yet perhaps the local officials did not think about such a serious criticism come from not only other parts of China but also from animals lovers around the world.

For those restaurants or dog farm owners that were established long time ago, it is difficult for them to stop the business that they are making money from. Some understand the immorality and inhumanity of their business, yet shifting into another one is not as easy as we might think. The financial factor, hence, significantly affects the mutual effort of other activists, who trying to stop people making money from animals’ agony.

To tackle this issue, Humane Society International has a wise strategy for those farmers who want to be out of the business. The organisation identifies them and helps them transition a ‘non-animal’ industry. Until this year, Humane Society International has helped shut down three dog farms in South Korea. One farm now grows blueberries, another organic peppers. The latest farm to close had around 100 dogs. The farmer and his wife announced their decision to leave the industry at a press conference in Seoul. The farmer’s wife cradled a puppy for a photo and said she’s relieved to be out of the business.

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Probably activists only attempt to stop the dog meat trade by telling those traders, dog farm owners and restaurants to stop, yet have neither offered them a practical solution nor assist them transition effectively.

Cat smuggling

Cat smuggling is not new, but the practice has become more widespread recently. Most of these cats are originated from China, others are sometimes smuggled across the border of Thailand and Laos. Tons of alive cats load off in cages have been reported to be seized by Vietnamese authorities in recent years. This is due to the rising demand for cat meat at many eateries in this country. While in 1998, the government banned the practice of trading and eating cat meat to control the overpopulation of rat. However, since pesticide became a more effective way to solve the problem, people have gradually neglected the regulation. Known as “the little tiger”, cat meat is a delicacy in Vietnam and its market seemingly does not shrink at all.

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Sadly, even the legislators still go to these cat meat restaurants. Perhaps the practice of eating cat meat only ends when people stop eating dog meat. These intelligent animals both have to suffer the same cruelty in those eateries.

The most terrible feeling of a pet keeper would be losing our beloved companion, even worse when we know that our cat has become a dish for someone else. It is not even a death that comes easily and peacefully to them, it is the real hell when the extremeness of pain and fear is experienced.

People lock them up in dirty tiny cages, where alive and dead cats are put together. They use boiled water to kill them and remove the their skins. Meat is delivered to the kitchen while bones are used as broth.

Perhaps, monsters aren’t real, but humans are.

Don’t die from eating dog meat

In my last post, I mentioned about one of the sources of dog meat dishes is come from dog farms, yet this commercial type of dog meat trade is only popularly available in Korea. In China and Vietnam, despite dog meat is quite popular and is displayed for sell publicly, there is seemingly no difficulty for dog meat restaurants to insinuate quarantine regulations, as this kind of meat is not listed as ordinary animal products in these countries.

There is nearly no way to tell whether dog meat cuisines are cooked from healthy or diseased dogs, or whether they are slaughtered when still being alive or have already poisoned to death. Some dogs are former pets, yet collected by these restaurants after these pets died from illness. Especially in rural areas, people are more superstitious and tend to avoid bury death animals in their yard so they sell them to dog meat restaurants with the hope of getting some money. Because dog meat won’t be bit off for at least 8 hours since the dog died, these restaurants exploit this cheap source of ingredient to make profit. Furthermore, dog meat is usually marinated and cooked with strongly flavoured herbs and spices, therefore it is impossible for consumers to discern a difference. Similarly, many dogs with scabies are still used, as after marinated and char-broiled, they become ‘delicious’ again and are ready to serve. More hazardously, the extreme poison that many dog theft gangs commonly use to capture pet dogs might still remain in the victim’s veins and meat, even after being cooked. This poison will negatively affect the consumer’s body, which might range from stomachache, diarrhoea, vomit, to convulsion, faint and even death.

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There is nearly no way to tell whether dog meat cuisines are cooked from healthy or diseased dogs, or whether they are slaughtered when still being alive or have already poisoned to death.

The dog meat eating habit in Asian country is not only seen as a taboo, but also raises serious concerns about sanitary and other health-related issues. If you are a person believe that there is no wrong with the habit, the later reason hopefully can change your mind.

Can dog farms solve the problem?

Perhaps the most seemingly ‘ethical’ country that consumes dog meat is Korea. Unlike the illegal trade of smuggling and stealing happening everyday in Vietnam and China, Korea has established a system of dog farms to specifically meet the need of dog meat eating only. This solution was an attempt to counter criticism from animal lovers in this country, yet the root of the problem has not been solved due to concerns about sanitary and humanity.6a01156f3fc9e0970c014e8985f9fd970d

Dog farms operate as a breeding factory, treating these animals as nothing more than a commercial product. They are crammed in small cages, housed in filthy environment and not allowed out for a walk like our pets. These cages are all that they will ever know for the whole of their lives, which is unnatural and inhumane. As dog is considered to be a smart animal, they face a high possibility of suffering from mental trauma and behavioral disorders as a result of not being socialised. Many people used to misunderstand that these dogs are a special kind of livestock that is raised for the eating purpose only, and they have got it terribly wrong. They are the same as any other dogs kept as pet in your family.

Besides, these dogs typically don’t meet adequate conditions about sanitary. In fact, diseased dogs are still provided to dog meat restaurants and there is no way eaters can tell the differences. Even eating stressed dogs is unhealthy for human. Fear, pain and strain when animals are being slaughtered or waiting to be slaughtered results in adverse effects for people who eat these dogs’ meat.

Dog farms is not a solution. They are just an excuse attempting to legalise and normalise this horrifying custom of eating human companion’s meat.

The moral of consuming dog meat and cat meat

Although it is considered as a taboo amongst cultures to eat dogs and cats, but there are no laws prohibiting the consumption itself. Currently, there are no official reasons from the government, particularly in most Asian countries, and this action leads to the ignorance from the people to the matter.

Some people can argue that eating dogs and cats is just like the consumption of cows, pigs and chickens. Technically this is true. But things get really different when you consider the moral side of the culture you are living in.

If you are living in Korea, there are dog farms specialized in this matter. If you are living in mostly other cultures, dogs and cats are just stolen pets. While cows, pigs and chickens are raised just to get meat and other products, pets are considered as the companions of humankind. In the people’s minds, they are considered as close as human beings can possibly be. Would you eat your friend? Would you eat another human being at that point? No, right?

GUIZHOU, CHINA - DECEMBER 21: (CHINA MAINLAND OUT)Winter Solstice became dog slaughter day on Friday December 21, 2012 in Guiyang, Guizhou, China. It's a custom that people eat dogs' meat to celebrated Winter Solstice in several provinces in China.(Photo by TPG/Getty Images)
Photo by TPG/Getty Images

The moral of the story is: Please be considerate of what you eat, because what you are eating is not just an animal. It could be someone’s companion in life.

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.