Inside the Dog Meat Trade – Dogs, Man’s Best Friend or Next Meal???

When I first discussed the idea of writing this article with several friends, the responses generally went something like this,” I don’t even want to think about eating dogs” or “that is their culture we eat beef and  chicken so what. It is estimated that each year Two Million dogs in Korea and Ten million in China are killed each year for their meat and fur.

The Argument that a certain practice is historically part of a culture does not make it acceptable –  slavery was once considered acceptable. The argument is absurd as in many places where dogs are eaten the practice is less than a few generation old. Did you know that researchers now believe that the SARS epidemic began its human to human transition in these live animal markets with cages piled high with dogs and cats waiting to be slaughtered? You may be surprised to know that many of the fur trimmed   accessories on your children’s  toys are not faux fur at all but dog or cat fur which is much cheaper to buy then to actually manufacture the imitation faux fur.

In this feature  we will be exploring the cultural, moral, historical, economic, legislative, health, cruelty and welfare issues relating to this practice. Finally we will discuss what you can do to change the situation without ever leaving the country.

Be Warned. Many may find reading this very disturbing.

Recently some Chinese animal-rights activists stopped a truck carrying about 500 dogs on the Beijing-Harbin Highway and saved these dogs from being slaughtered and served as food in restaurants in Changchun, Jilin Province.  Mr. An, an animal rights activist and volunteer at Beijing-based China Small Animal Protection Association, saw the truck stacked with cages of cramped and whimpering dogs. Suspecting the dogs were illegally acquired, he forced the truck to stop. He then called a friend for help and through him published a plea on Sina Weibo, a Twitter like social networking and micro-blogging service popular in China. The blog attracted more than 100 animal rights activists, who gathered with water, medicine and food for the dogs. Their presence jammed the highway temporarily and forced police to shut down a nearby exit. The police later found that the truck driver had all the necessary paperwork, including those regarding animal quarantine and immunity for the dogs, but activists refused to abandon their rescue effort. The 15 hour intense overnight negotiations ended with a pet company and an environmental conservation foundation co-buying the dogs for about 115,000 yuan ($17,606).

This incident triggered a hot debate on whether eating dog meat should be banned. Opponents said that the dog rescue was a violation of the rights of those who eat dog meat and of businesses dealing in dog meat. Animal protection supporters countered that calling brutalizing dogs a sign of moral degradation. This incident suggests that China has come to a stage where the Chinese authorities must address the social stability and public health issues connected to the uncontrolled dog-eating culinary sub-culture.

The Culture of Eating Dog Meat

People in China have been eating dog meat for a long time, even though it’s a relatively expensive affair. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), King Goujian of the Yue Kingdom, before going to war against the Wu Kingdom, awarded dogs to women who gave birth to boys and pigs to those who gave birth to girls. Dog meat cost more than pork even then.

According to Records of the Grand Historian, Fan Kuai, a senior military general who helped found the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), made a living as a dog butcher when he was young.

Many consider dog meat not only a delicacy, but also to have medicinal properties. Bencao Gangmu (or Compendium of Materia Medica), the seminal work of medical and pharmaceutical expert Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), describes dog meat as warm, yang-nourishing and especially beneficial for the kidneys and stomach.

Eating dog meat is a socially acceptable practice in parts of southern China. Believed to have medicinal qualities, dog meat is consumed as a energizer food, providing warmth in the winter months, as well as helping cure fatigue, low back pain, poor memory and slow digestion in older men. (Interestingly, and paradoxically, dog meat is eaten in South Korea during the summer months to cool the body down.) Dog skin and gallstones are used to strengthen the body or heal sickness, dog penis and testes are used for impotence and lowered sex drive, and dog kidney is consumed to cure impotence and premature ejaculation. The bones of dogs are sometimes used as an alternative to tiger bone to treat rheumatism. Although dog meat is not seen at dinner tables as much as pork, beef or other kinds of white meat, some parts of China still favor the canine dish – especially in the northeast along the border with Korea and in the southern provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong. Traditionally confined primarily to southern China and a few spots in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, the practice of eating dog began to spread throughout China in the late 1980s as the country became more affluent. Many people view less superior breeds of dogs as edible “meat dogs,” even while having pet dogs themselves.

 

Cruelty and   Torture of Dogs

Controversy has emerged about the treatment of dogs in China, not because of the consumption itself, but because of other factors like cruelty involved with the killing. It is estimated that up to 10 million dogs are slaughtered every year in China, many suffer a lingering and violent death in the belief that “torture equals taste”. The dogs are bludgeoned over the head, stabbed in the neck and bled out, hanged and beaten alive or electrocuted. Some dogs are thrown into boiling water while they are still alive. Some are purposely slaughtered in front of other dogs, to increase their fear and stress level, to boost the adrenaline and thus enhance the flavor in their meat. Actual physical torture and bleeding them out slowly are routine methods used for this purpose.

The suffering of the dogs is heart wrenching. Dogs bred for the meat trade possibly will spend their entire lives in wire cages. They are often caged tightly and kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. They do not feel what walking on the ground is like, they don’t get to mingle with other dogs other than those cramped in cages beside them; they suffer summer heat and freezing winters outdoors; they are not given water or suitable food; they get no exercise; some even have their eardrums burst to prevent them from barking – every natural instinct they have is disturbed by the inhumane and tortuous conditions they must live under.

Growth of The Dog Meat Market and The Breeding Industry

Around the world there is mounting concern about the growth of an international dog meat trade. Even as certain countries in Asia including the Philippines and Taiwan have banned the practice of dog eating, dogs and sometimes cats are still used as food animals in many parts of Asia, particularly in Korea, China and Vietnam. Recent evidence shows that the market is expanding with the growth of the dog meat and breeding industry in China.

The growth of the dog meat market has seen an increasing demand for large European breed dogs. However, most westerners are unwilling to supply animals to the market because of their aversion to the practice of eating dogs. This has made acquiring animals difficult and led Chinese businessmen to focus on importing stud dogs only, as breeding stock, to meet the internal needs of the market. The most sought after dogs being Saint Bernards and other large European breeds, such as German Shepherds, Dalmations, Newfoundlands and Leonbergers.

The dog meat trade is becoming increasingly industrialized and is even promoted by the government in some provinces. The 90s saw an increase in large dog farms that raise, slaughter, process and pack the meat for distribution around the country. To keep up with demand dog farms have been springing up around the country and dog breeders have been experimenting with crossing larger foreign breeds with the leaner Mongolian dogs long favored for their meat. The foreign breeds come mostly from Russia. And they are not eaten because purebreds are too valuable and all dogs taste pretty much the same. A pedigree Saint Bernard or Dalmatian costs more than US$1,000. Crossing one of those dogs with a local bitch produces two litters of eight to 10 puppies a year. Each crossbred puppy grows to about 50kg in six months, when it can fetch about 400 yuan, (nearly US$50), half of that profit.

Eating dog just about died out during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, when Red Guards rampaged through the country killing dogs, even those raised for food, because of their stigma as an extravagance of the bourgeoisie. But dog meat is increasingly available now, and its popularity is growing as people become wealthier and their diets diversify: dog meat is one of the most expensive meats available in the country today.

Risk to Human Health

There are significant health risks related with the farming, slaughter and consumption of dogs. Unsanitary conditions in farms present the most favorable conditions for microbes to reproduce. Diseases such as parvo virus, canine distemper and leptospirosis are common and spread like wildfire in dogs whose immune systems are already low and weakened due to the poor health and starvation. The trade and movement of dogs over large areas increase the risk of disease transmission. There are a number of pathogens associated with the dog meat industry; the most recently documented include cholera, rabies, and trichinellosis.

Cholera: Following a Cholera outbreak in Vietnam in 2008 the World Health Organisation’s representative in Vietnam warned that eating dog meat, or other food from outlets that serve it, is linked to a 20-fold increase in the risk of developing the severe acute watery diarrhea commonly caused by the cholera bacterium. In 2009 seven provinces and cities in the northern and central regions had announced patient’s positive for the cholera bacterium. On May 13, the Hanoi Health Department declared it had found the cholera bacterium in five samples of dog meat taken from four slaughterhouses in Ha Dong district. Rabies: Research published in March 2009 in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, reports on two patients admitted to hospital showing signs of rabies infection. Neither patient was thought to have been bitten by a rabid animal in the preceding months. When the researchers investigated whether the patients had come into contact with infected animals, they found that both had been involved in preparing and eating animals that may have been infected.

Culture  and Traditions

Culture and tradition should not be excuses for cruelty. The argument that a certain practice is historically part of a culture does not make it acceptable. In fact in Korea, contrary to popular belief, dog eating is a relatively recent phenomenon and has never been a part of a long-standing culinary history as the traders would have us believe. The fabrication of dog and cat meat as an age-old part of Korean cultural heritage is a clever marketing strategy by unscrupulous vendors who are exploiting an easy to produce commodity. People who eat dog meat support several arguments in their favor. They say dogs have been eaten in China for thousands of years. They argue that there are no extra health hazards from eating dog meat, and instead claim that it has “health benefits” because it contains “certain medicinal properties”. In general, they dispute that eating dogs is no different from eating any other animal, and accuse people opposing it of practicing a kind of cultural imperialism based on the practices in their countries.

It is unethical and wrong to separate dogs for meat and dogs for pets in the first place. To say there is a dog especially bred for eating, does not mean that it is different from other dogs in nature. It has the same intelligence and feelings and it will suffer as much as any other dog. The dog-for-meat notion is a cover-up to keep people uninformed. It gives people an excuse not to think about the real issues.

Animal Welfare Laws and Regulations

When talking about animal rights laws, China is behind over 100 countries in the world. In China no animal welfare legislation exists and China doesn’t have laws against animal cruelty, but animals like pandas or tigers that are threatened by extinction are legally protected. Fortunately an animal protection law is now being drafted by a group of leading Chinese law academics for the purpose of promoting public discussion within China with a long term goal of addressing deliberate cruelty to animals. Animal protection organizations, despite some not having government permits, are being founded and people are more willing than they used to be to join them and discuss them in public.

Several Asian countries have now legislated against dog-meat consumption. The more significant problem in countries where bans do exist appears to lie with enforcement issues, for example:

• The Philippine Animal Welfare Act No. 8485, (1998) bans the trading and eating of dog meat. However, animal welfare groups claim that widespread corruption of officials and other agencies means that the law is not enforced.

• Taiwan’s Animal Protection Bill (1988) bans killing dogs for food, but once again the ban is not enforced and there are purportedly around 60 dog meat restaurants throughout Taiwan.

• In 1984 the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare classified dog meat and dog soup as “disgusting foods” and food sanitation laws have also been introduced to ban the manufacturing and selling of dog meat. Restaurant owners caught selling dog meat can have their business licenses removed on their third offence. Despite this framework, the Ministry of Health and Welfare does not enforce the Law so that dog meat restaurants remain common and an illegal dog and cat meat trade continues to flourish. In fact pressure from the dog meat industry and consumers now appears to be pushing the government towards formally backtracking and distinguishing “food dogs” and “pet dogs”.

Education & Awareness

Contrary to public outlook pet keeping is not purely a Western practice. The earliest known reference to Pekingese dogs was in the 8th century Tang Dynasty in China, where they were held sacred for nearly one thousand years, making them the world’s first pet dogs. (Cats were common in China by 500 BC.) Scientific studies have emerged recently that indicate nearly all dogs, from toy poodles to mastiffs, are descended from three female wolves tamed in China 15,000 years ago. Historically, dog eating in China was never widespread, but rather confined to a handful of clans who consumed dog meat for religious reasons.

Today, dogs are increasingly being recognized within China as dependable and even crucial members of family and society. Changing family demographics, such as childless couples and increasing numbers of elderly people living alone, mean that more and more people are turning to dogs for companionship and support. As a result, pet ownership is booming, with just over 150 million pet dogs throughout the nation – one for every nine people. according to the Beijing Kennel Club, pet owners in the city spend more than 500 million RMB on their pets a year. Experts say that the market potential for the “pet economy” could reach a minimum of 15 billion RMB, far exceeding the economic potential of the trade in dog meat. Now dogs are being employed as sniffer dogs at airports and railway stations, they have also become invaluable and cheap in the assistants of law enforcement. Dogs and other companion animals also provide an important financial, as well as emotional, contribution to China.

Modernization in China is increasing at remarkable speed and there is a new awareness of animals, and their welfare pertaining to a new generation of informed and passionate people. What’s more, the media is playing a primary role in the change of people’s attitude. Education and awareness is the key to ending the misery of dogs. There has never been a better opportunity of reaching out, extending the message so that attitudes can change and gradually a new consensus on the goodness of dogs and cats as our friends and helpers – and not food – can emerge and prevail.

What you can Do?

.Some of us may be angered, appalled, disgusted and even disturbed by this feature. Remember everyone is entitled to an opinion! Cultural practices are cultural practices and they vary from civilization to civilization, but it should not be an excuse to cruelty Most of the world views dogs as trusted companions, but in Asia, millions of them are still consumed for meat.  If you are an animal lover would like to end dog meat trade or help raise awareness or sign a petition to ban eating of dogs or want to donate to support the cause, feel free to visit the website listed below to learn more about the groups, their cause and what you can do to help.

Animal Asiahttp://www.animalsasia.org

International Aid for Korean Animalshttp://www.koreananimals.org

Sirius Global Animal Organisation – http://www.siriusgao.org

We at PLC would like to extend our appreciation to the three groups mentioned above for their support and contributions to make
this feature possible. Special thanks to Jill Robinson – founder and CEO of Animal Asia Foundation, Kyenan Kum – founder of International Aid for Korean Animals and Elly Maynard – founder of Sirius Global Animal Organisation.

Fighting The International Dog Meat Trade
by Elly Maynard and Deidre Bourke
New Zealand dog breeders are being targeted as a source of dogs for human consumption in Asia…Around the world there is mounting concern about the expansion of an international dog meat trade. Whilst certain countries in Asia including the Philippines and Taiwan have banned the practice of dog eating, dogs and sometimes cats are still used as food animals in many parts of Asia, most notably, in Korea, China and Vietnam. Recent evidence shows that the market is expanding with the growth of the dog meat and breeding industry in China. The resulting market demand has led to New Zealand breeders being targeted to supply stud or breeding animals to Asian countries. The most sought after dogs being Saint Bernards and other large European breeds, such as German Shepherds, Dalmations, Newfoundlands and Leonbergers.
Growth of the Chinese Dog-Meat MarketThe Chinese market has emerged with the appearance of Saint Bernard breeders on the scene, and has proliferated, partly due to Government funding. Dog farms are currently springing up all over China, with industry ads boasting high rates of return, three times as profitable as poultry, and four times as profitable as raising pigs. Chinese dog farmers believe that in a few short years, dog farms will become as prolific as those raising sheep and cattle. In Peixian for example, 300,000 dogs are slaughtered annually. Some farms raise as many as 100,000 dogs a year, most for slaughter but some also for their fur. The animals are killed at about 6 months of age.
Why are overseas breeders being targeted?With the growth of the dog meat market there has been an increasing demand for large European breed dogs. However western abhorrence of the practice of eating dogs means that most are unwilling to supply animals to the market. This has made procuring animals difficult and led Chinese businessmen to focus on importing stud dogs only, as breeding stock, to meet the internal needs of the market. Attempts are also being made to start negotiations with foreign companies and websites have been set up to asking investors for help to expand the operations.Those seeking animals for the dog meat industry may also create ‘cover’ stories in their attempt to obtain animals. For example one New Zealand breeder was approached to supply Saint Bernard puppies to China allegedly for service as police dogs &endash; however no countries in the world currently use Saint Bernards as police dogs.Cruelty and Welfare Issues

Dogs bred for the meat trade may spend their entire lives in wire cages – usually in filthy cramped conditions. Many are packed so tightly into cages on their way to the markets that injuries are common. In addition, the dogs are often killed in horrendous ways, or beaten severely prior to being slaughtered in order to stimulate the animal to produce adrenalin, as many believe that eating such meat boosts men’s virility. For example video footage shows dogs being killed by methods such as:

• Pouring boiling water over the live animal to increase the adrenaline production. Their throat is cut and the meat left to dry.

• Holes are cut in the paws. The animal is then left to bleed to death. This takes 10 minutes or so but makes the meat taste better.

• Legs broken the night before slaughter then the dog is skinned alive the next morning.

• Beating with sticks and slow strangulation/blow torching.

Many Asian countries have relatively poor animal welfare standards by comparison with New Zealand, and even where laws aimed to prevent such suffering do exist, enforcement and policing may be inadequate. The South Korean government in particular has come under fire for failing to enforce its 1991 Animal Protection Law, which bans cruelty to all animals, in relation to the dog meat market.

 

Legislative controls on the dog-meat market in Asia

Several Asian countries have now legislated against dog-meat consumption. For example, while the killing and eating dogs is legal in mainland China, the practice was banned in Hong Kong as long ago as 1950. The more significant problem in countries where bans do exist appears to lie with enforcement issues, for example:

• The Philippine Animal Welfare Act No. 8485, (1998) bans the trading and eating of dog meat. However, animal welfare groups claim that widespread corruption of officials and other agencies means that the law is not enforced.

• Taiwan’s Animal Protection Bill (1988) bans killing dogs for food, but once again the ban is not enforced and there are purportedly around 60 dog meat restaurants throughout Taiwan.

• In 1984 the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare classified dog meat and dog soup as “disgusting foods” and food sanitation laws have also been introduced to ban the manufacturing and selling of dog meat. Restaurant owners caught selling dog meat can have their business licenses removed on their third offence. Despite this framework, the Ministry of Health and Welfare does not enforce the Law so that dog meat restaurants remain common and an illegal dog and cat meat trade continues to flourish. In fact pressure from the dog meat industry and consumers now appears to be pushing the government towards formally backtracking and distinguishing “food dogs” and “pet dogs”.

What can be done to solve the problem?• Attempts to reclassify dogs as not for human consumption &endash; or not livestock

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has a complete list of all livestock etc, and through its member countries, has the power to classify dogs as not for human consumption. Since there has never been a recognised international dog-meat trade and the market is relatively recent, dogs do not appear on the FAO list of livestock. However China (an FAO member country) has unilaterally classified them as livestock. In response, a Petition asking that dogs be classified as ‘not for human consumption’ was launched, and has now been signed and supported by over 4.5 million people globally. The petition was presented to the FAO meeting in Rome November 2nd 2001.

In response to the petition the FAO stated that: “There are no rules at an international level that prohibit the commercialisation of dogs as slaughter animals. Codex Alimentarius defines meat as the edible part of any slaughter animal slaughtered in an abattoir and includes edible offal”. (Incidentally, there are no commercially run “abattoirs” for dogs in China; as they are typically slaughtered in backyards.)While largely ignoring the petition (not even alerting its member countries to the fact that the world’s largest petition for animals was received on this issue) they also stated that it was open for any FAO member country to discuss or raise such matters at either an FAO Council or Conference.This means that, as a member of the FAO the New Zealand government could table this issue for discussion. The New Zealand government has so far refused to do this.• Imposing additional restrictions on live dog exportsAustralia is one country that has taken a lead in this issue. At the end of last year, through the Australian National Kennel Council, Australia formally legislated against the export of dogs from Australia to any country where they are consumed as food. Dogs can only be sold to registered members of Kennel Clubs for showing, or breeding to enhance the breed for shows only.

New Zealand could move towards implementing similar legislation and restrict the export of dogs to help prevent New Zealand breeders from supplying [even unintentionally] stud or breeding animals to the dog meat trade.

At present, before live animals may be exported to another country, an export certificate, setting out all the conditions agreed to with the importing country, must be issued under the Animals Products Act 1999. In addition the Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that animals being exported from New Zealand require animal welfare export certification. Therefore there may also be scope for reform and changes to be instituted at various points in these processes. An interesting point which has not yet been raised in relation to this issue, is whether any export bans could run into problems in relation to the WTO agreements, such as the GATT free trade provisions. Specifically GATT Article XI that sets bans on exports as well as imports. Cases on this point indicate that nations may only act to protect animals within their own territory. This has been an issue in the UK where, despite having banned veal crates within the UK it has been impossible to prevent the export of calves overseas for rearing in veal crates.

Want to help and get involved with this issue?

Clearly this issue raises significant legal issues for New Zealand. New Zealander Elly Maynard, Chairperson and Founder of Sirius Global Animal Organisation, a group dedicated to fighting to keep domestic companion animals out of the food chain, is at the forefront of the fight against the international dog meat trade &endash; and she needs your help!!!

If you would like more information, or would like to get involved in the fight against the dog meat trade, and work on lobbying to implement changes in New Zealand to counter this barbaric industry, contact Elly Maynard or check out the group’s website website.

 

courtesy of Sirius Global Animal Charitable Trust

Dog and cat eating in China

Dog eating
Three caged dogs await their fate Dogs arrive by the truckload
While some countries in Asia such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan have banned the practice of dog eating, evidence shows that in China, the biggest dog eating country in the world, it continues to thrive.It is estimated that up to 10 million dogs are slaughtered every year in China, many deliberately slowly and cruelly in the belief that “torture equals taste”, while all suffer the stress and pain of being farmed in concentrated numbers before being killed in a variety of ways which rarely ensure a quick and humane death.Animals Asia field investigators have witnessed trucks loaded with anything up to 2,000 dogs per truck arriving at the wholesale Hua Nam Wild Animal Market in Guangzhou. These poor animals have spent 3 days and 3 nights, squashed together in tiny cages, unable to move, without food, water or shelter. The dogs are then brutally lifted by the neck and hurled into a pen by a man wielding a metal tongs. Here they fight through fear, hunger and desperation to survive while awaiting a horrendously slow death in order to provide meat for restaurants in Guangzhou.Diseases such as parvo virus, canine distemper and leptospirosis are rife and spread like wildfire in dogs whose immune systems are already low due to depression and starvation. We often witness a large number of dead and diseased dogs and cats which have been pulled out of the cages and slung by the side.The dog meat trade is becoming increasingly industrialized and is even promoted by the government in some provinces. Huge dog farms have been developed and giant gentle breeds, like the St. Bernard, have been imported to be cross-bred with the local Chinese mongrel to produce a fast growing, docile “meat dog” that can be slaughtered at 4 months. Livestock sections of large bookshops stock books and VCDs on dog farming which promote horrific slaughter methods, in the misguided belief that the more the dog suffers the better the meat will taste. Consequently, vacuum packed and canned dog meat are becoming increasingly available in some supermarkets.

Investigations also reveal that the fur from slaughtered dogs is now entering local and international markets and being used as “trim” for fashion items, or for trinkets such as keyrings and hair accessories.

Animals Asia has examined arguments ranging from those referring to culture, to those which state that, as long as the animal does not suffer, then eating dog meat is no different to eating the meat of other domestically raised animals such as pork, chicken and beef. However, we believe that to advocate humane slaughter for dogs would legitimize the practice and undermine the tireless and effective work of those Asian countries that have recently outlawed the practice. Time and time again, dogs across the world have proved their unique qualities and how valuable they can be in partnership with people. We believe that they should not be part of the food chain.

The scale of the cruelty is immense, but our recent survey on China’s largest internet portal – Sina.com – had over 5,000 responses and showed that many Chinese people are passionately against the idea of eating our “best friends”.

Education is the key to ending the misery of dogs in China and Animals Asia needs your help as we tackle the problem with positive programmes like Doctor Dog and brand new initiatives like the China distribution of over 100,000 VCDs of our innovative inhouse film “Dr. Eddie: Friend or Food?” – inspiring and compelling a reconsideration of attitudes at a grass roots level.

courtesy of Animal Asia

Unloaded outside a market in Southern China
Special sauce for making dog “hot pot”
A pitiful St Bernard-cross – a new fast growing meat dog
Food: slaughtered dogs on the menu
Friend: An Animals Asia Dr Dog at work!
Pet Lovers Companion P.O. Box 239 Mount Vernon, VA 22121 703-780-4400 Copyright © 2002-2014, Meyers Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
st louis web design