10 November 2020 – During the virtual 2020 World Travel Market held from 9 to 11 November, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS shone a light on the public health risks posed by the dog and cat meat trade to tourism in Southeast Asia, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. FOUR PAWS was one of the key guest speakers invited to take part in a panel discussion on how the tourism industry needs to build back better for the future. FOUR PAWS is calling for an outright ban of the dog and cat meat trade across Southeast Asia, and is asking for tourism operators and travel trade associations to join the fight against this threat to animals, people and communities by signing a pledge of support.
During the panel discussion, FOUR PAWS raised awareness of the plight of over 10 million dogs and cats which are killed and eaten every year in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, often close to popular tourist destinations. Many of these animals are stolen pets or stray animals taken from the streets, crammed into small cages, transported without food and water, and brutally killed at restaurants, markets, and slaughterhouses throughout Southeast Asia. Moreover, poor hygiene standards at slaughterhouses, restaurants and live animal markets are ideal breeding grounds for the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, posing a risk for locals and tourists alike. According to surveys conducted by travel company Thomas Cook and The British Travel Association (ABTA), 90 percent of customers consider it important that their holiday operator takes animal welfare seriously, whilst 52 percent of customers would not visit a country again after witnessing animal cruelty. On rating platform Tripadvisor, travellers report their horrors at witnessing dog and cat meat trade operations in Southeast Asia.
Many travel organisations were not aware of the impact the dog and cat meat trade has on tourism but several have now signed FOUR PAWS’ pledge to show their support for an end to the trade. They acknowledged that it is a tour operator’s responsibility to protect the destination, as well as the people and animals within it and are aiming to include the dog and cat meat trade in their animal welfare commitment.
“The support from tourism operators to protect millions of animals from the dog and cat meat trade is extremely important. Every corporate pledge signed enables tour operators to show their commitment to their animal protection mission and adds additional pressure for the governments of Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia to take action, as tourism is such an important part of their economies.”
Joanna Randall, Head of Companion Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS’ fight against the dog and cat meat trade
FOUR PAWS has been working to sustainably end the dog and cat meat trade since 2018. Following the launch of a campaign on an international and national level in Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, the global animal welfare organisation conducted investigations, research, and surveys, as well as slaughterhouse closures to rescue animals from a cruel fate.
“The dog and cat meat trade operates almost universally illegally being in breach of existing laws and regulations pertaining to disease control, animal welfare and border control, paving the way for major public health disasters. It must be a priority for all Governments to take preventative action to ensure future pandemics do not happen again. Through educational work and cooperation with the responsible authorities, local communities and the tourism industry, FOUR PAWS’ goal is for governments in Southeast Asia to introduce, strengthen and enforce animal protection laws, which will bring an end to the capture, slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats. This will not only protect animals, but also people from the spread of zoonotic diseases.”
Dr Karanvir Kukreja, Project Manager for FOUR PAWS’ Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Campaign
Furthermore, FOUR PAWS supports local animal welfare organisations and communities in Southeast Asia with humane and sustainable stray animal care programmes. FOUR PAWS is also a member of several animal welfare coalitions including the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition (DMFI) and the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA), which lobby against the trade in Southeast Asia, as well as being a member of the Asia for Animals Coalition, which works to improve the welfare of all animals across Asia.
FOUR PAWS is inviting travel businesses and associations to demonstrate their support for an end to the dog and cat meat trade, to protect millions of tourists, animals’ and communities by signing their pledge. Twenty-four companies and associations have already signed the pledge which can be found at: www.dogcatmeat.four-paws.org/travel