FOUR PAWS has been researching this horrific trade since 2018, including through in-depth investigations, consumer surveys and consultation with the tourism markets. Over recent months, our petition calling for an end to the dog and cat meat trade reached over 1 million signatures worldwide, representing growing concern from the public about this abhorrent trade and the immense cruelty immersed within it.
But while the cruelty of the trade is well documented, there are many lesser-known risks it presents to human health and safety too. Travellers to Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia are frequently confronted with the violent theft and slaughter of dogs and cats, ending their visit with a negative impression of what is otherwise a beautiful country. Furthermore, there are numerous opportunities for tourists to be directly exposed to deadly diseases. Live animal markets in particular have the potential to expose hundreds of thousands of people every day to a variety of zoonotic diseases, especially given the unhygienic, overcrowded and stressful conditions in which the animals are both kept and slaughtered.
This is why our latest campaign aims to amplify the voices of potential and previous travellers to Southeast Asia. National Tourism Boards represent the Ministry of Tourism and therefore the tourism interests of a country. Their aim is to promote their country as an attractive destination and therefore play an important role in our campaign to end the dog and cat meat trade and can be a direct point of contact to the Ministries of Tourism. Tourism is a crucial economic sector in Southeast Asia – the region is placing great emphasis on a rebound for tourism post-COVID, and the Ministries of Tourism could be incredibly influential in ending the trade to protect both animals and people.
Our new action has now launched in Australia, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, the USA and South Africa to give FOUR PAWS supporters the opportunity to write directly to the National Tourism Boards and highlight not only the unimaginable cruelty and suffering engulfed in this trade, but also the very real health risk to both tourists and the local communities. Our action focuses on the National Tourism Boards of Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam through their representations overseas.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world has become all too aware of the devastating impact that transmissible diseases can have, and the potential risks that the unsanitary animals trade pose. Our investigations have revealed that the dogs and cats trapped within the trade are subject to cruelty, high stress levels, cramped and unhygienic conditions and the mixing of species – all conditions known to incubate and lead to the emergence of new diseases. It is important, now more than ever, that we eradicate any potential sources of such diseases, including the dog and cat meat trade.