Dog Meat: Consumption and Regulations in Asia
Dogs have always been considered companion animals, pets, or simply humans’ friends. However, historically and in the present days, dog meat has been consumed for curing various diseases, as part of the traditional or everyday meal. Unfortunately, dog farms still exist in some countries around the world, and conditions are unacceptable and horrible, dogs are cruelly beaten and tortured.
Asia is the leading continent in the world that practices dog farming, dog meat consumption, and commercial trade. In some countries, it is believed that dog meat helps during flu or cold, in some countries, it is considered that dog meat brings fortune and luck. While in every culture dogs are humans’ friends, companions, in some countries, they are treated like children, yet humans consume dog meat of certain breeds in the same countries.
In Asia, approximately 30 million dogs are killed for food consumption. These are, unfortunately, only those numbers of the countries that have dog farms and do commercial trade. However, the numbers are much higher because, in some countries, individuals are allowed to slaughter dogs for personal consumption, so the exact number remains unknown.
The Nureongi is one of the commonly used breeds for commercial raising in South Korea and is usually not kept as pets. In 2015, the report showed that a dozen breeds are actually eaten in the country, such as labradors, retrievers, cocker spaniels, etc. Other breeds include Mexican Hairless Dog, Hawaiian Poi Dog, Polynesian Dog, Tahitian Dog, etc.
Protection in Asia
In Cambodia, 2-3 million dogs are killed each year for food consumption, and methods of slaughtering include drowning, stabbing, strangulation.
In mainland China, it is considered legal to consume dog meat, and there are no quarantine procedures for dog slaughter. In accordance with the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law of the People’s Republic of China, dogs shall be vaccinated, except for the purposes of human consumption, thus they are illegal for sale or transportation.
Currently, dog meat is consumed in several regions, such as Guangdong, Yunnan, Guangxi, Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. In 2020, Shenzhen became the first city in China that banned the consumption of dog and cat meat after the coronavirus outbreak. Yulin has been hosting one of the horrific dog festivals annually where customers ate dog meat, and recently the ban was issued by the government on hosting such event just weeks ahead of the festival.
Hong Kong has issued the Dogs and Cats Ordinance, which prohibits slaughtering any dog or cat for the purposes of human consumption, and the action is punished by fine and imprisonment.
In Taiwan, in 2001, the government banned the sale of dog meat. 6 years later, another law that was issued increased fines for those who sell dog meat. A lot of animal rights activists were pressing the government not prosecuting people who continue to use dog meat in restaurants and slaughter dogs.
In 2017, Taiwan became the first region in Asia that officially banned dog and cat meat consumption. Later that year, Legislative Yuan added the provisions to the Animal Protection Act, which “bans the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat and of any food product that contain the meat or other parts of these animals.”
Dog meat is consumed in a few states of India, such as Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and activists have been raising the issue before the government.
In 2020, Mizoram enacted the Animal Slaughter Bill, which bans dog slaughter within the state. Later, in Nagaland, interested individuals launched the campaign against the dog meat trade, and the state banned dog meat consumption and trade.
The practice of dog meat consumption is not common in Japan, however, it was reported that more than 100 stores were selling imported meat to foreigners.
In 2010, it was reported that North Korea practice the sale of dog meat announcing that 1 kg/2.2 lb cost 500 won/0.46 USD.
In Thailand, animal cruelty conduct is regulated by the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision Animal Welfare Act, which includes the ban on trade and consumption of dog meat.
Approximately 2 million dogs are reared on dog farms in South Korea and approximately 780 000 to 1 million dogs are consumed each year in the country. South Korea is one of the main countries that still practice dog farming, dog meat consumption, and trade. The country considers any food product acceptable, except for drugs as food. A number of animal welfare organizations and animal rights activists have been raising the issue in the country stating that dogs are brutally killed and beaten to make meat more tender. And although in Korean culture, people tend to like dogs, especially smaller breeds, the consumption of their meat remains the main issue in the animal law field.
In 2018, one of the main dog slaughterhouse in the country in Seongnam was closed by the government. The following year, Seoul has become the only dog meat-free city in the country closing all active dog slaughterhouses.
Vietnam is another example where dog slaughter is still being practiced. Approximately 5 million dogs are slaughtered each year being the second biggest dog meat consumer in the world after China. In 2013, a survey was conducted on the Internet asking the readers about dog meat, where 80% supported the dog meat consumption stating that it is nutritious and has been a traditional meal. 13% of participants were not against dog slaughter but insisted on better control of slaughterhouses.
In 2018, the Hanoi authorities called on stopping the dog and cat meat consumption saying that the practice is done with cruel methods and mentioning possible consequences of getting rabies or leptospirosis. Unfortunately, most dogs and cats used for dog meat are stolen pets and it may “tarnish the city’s image as a civilised and modern capital.”
Despite Indonesia being a predominantly Muslim country where dog meat and pig meat are considered “ritually unclean” the demand for dog meat has been increasing among Muslims and other ethnic groups due to the cheap price and medicinal benefits. According to animal welfare organizations, at least 1 million dogs are killed annually for food, many of them are slaughtered in the capital of the country despite people’s concerns about rabies.
In 2017, Marc Ching from the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation said that the treatment of dogs was “the most sadistic” than anywhere. The same year, the investigation revealed tourists in Bali unknowingly eating dog meat that was sold by the local vendors.
In Central Asian countries, dog fat is considered to treat tuberculosis, and recently in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, it has been used to cure the COVID-19 virus.
There are no dog farms in the countries of Central Asia, but dog slaughtering occurs for personal consumption and also sold through third parties.
Generally, a lot of factors come into play in the current topic. For some ethnic groups, it is a part of their culture and traditions, beliefs that are also derived from customs. What we, animal protectionists, can do to eliminate the dog meat industry in our countries and among our friends is to start raising awareness about the ruthless treatment of dogs both in slaughterhouses, where it is allowed to maintain them and for personal consumption.
It is necessary to remember and remind others that dogs are not livestock animals, and eating them would not cure diseases, instead, they may cause zoonotic diseases. Right now, especially, the issue of consuming animals and animal-derived products is highly raised due to the COVID-19 outbreak that was caused by eating exotic species of animals. And with the current restrictions of group gatherings, a number of slaughterhouses have to either close their door due to the impossibility of a proper operation or break the regulations of social distancing where both animals and employees are under the threat of getting the virus.
Dogs are extremely intelligent animals, they are usually at the top list of animals to start with to protect due to their huge connection with humans.