We were incredibly disappointed to hear this week that a proposal to make it a criminal offence in Britain to possess dog and cat meat may have fallen at the final hurdle.
Ministry of Justice officials told Conservative MP Giles Watling they felt it would be culturally insensitive of the government to dictate to other nations what they should eat and argued that there is already a ban on transporting or exporting dog and cat meat in the UK which would suffice.
We have seen the impact of the dog and cat meat trade across Southeast Asia and echo Mr. Watling’s thoughts that this ban does not signify the UK directing other countries on the practices they should adopt, but instead makes it clear that we, as a nation of animal lovers, do not condone it.
And we are not alone in this: several key measures have been taken in Southeast Asia that indicate political and social will to end the trade. These steps signpost that international support for ending the trade would be welcomed, as well as guidance for fast-tracking it.
An ever-growing number of countries and territories in the region, such as Taiwan and the Philippines, have explicitly banned both the slaughter and sale of dogs and cats for food by taking various legal approaches on grounds of animal welfare, public health, and disease control.
More encouraging developments are also happening Vietnam, where in the last year there has been increasing awareness of the risks of the trade. In September 2018, the Mayor of Hanoi stated that raising public awareness of the risks of dog meat consumption needed to be strengthened to discourage consumption, and that the dog meat trade would be eliminated from the city’s central 21 districts by 2021. And this week, Ho Chi Minh City food safety officials urged locals to stop eating dog meat. “Eating dog meat is not a good habit so people should kick it, especially in this era of international integration,” they stated.
Despite this, the consumption of dog and cat meat is still prevalent across much of the region and the trade is one of the most serious and emotive companion animal welfare issues of our times.
It’s a totally unregulated trade which involves stealing family pets, inhumane transport and slaughter methods. There are also serious risks to human health that often go unmentioned.
We urge the Ministry of Justice to allow the UK to follow the US, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong and other countries where the consumption of dogs and cats is already banned. This would also send a clear message of support to the people of Southeast Asian countries who have their pets stolen for this cruel trade.
An estimated 30 million dogs and likely millions of cats are slaughtered every year to serve the trade, with serious animal welfare and public health issues at stake.
Joanna RandallInternational Head of Companion Animals Campaigns
With over a decade of experience in animal protection, Joanna has worked on a variety of award winning campaigns, convincing some of the biggest companies in the world to stand up for animals.
Today Joanna leads the international companion animal campaigns for FOUR PAWS: challenging businesses and governments to implement strong measures to protect pets, exposing unscrupulous puppy dealers, mobilising the public to take a stand against animal cruelty, and helping pet buyers to make informed decisions.