Every year, an estimated 25 million dogs are killed for people to eat. They suffer throughout their short lives.
Commercial dog meat production is inherently cruel. The animals suffer at every stage, from farming (or capture) through to transport, sale and slaughter.
In South Korea, intensively farmed dogs live for less than a year, often raised in small ‘over the ground’ cages, alone or in groups. Although the cages are designed for waste to drain away, in reality the animals live in filthy conditions.
The dogs are usually fed on restaurant scraps or – as a WSPA-funded report discovered – on other dogs. Fighting over the meagre food supply causes aggression and injury, and the overuse of antibiotics is commonplace, introducing these drugs into the human food chain.
In Thailand, Laos and Vietnam dogs are swapped for a small item such as a blanket or stolen from the streets. They are then transported – tightly caged for many hours – only to be slaughtered or exported by boat and truck to Vietnam, where they are force fed, sold and slaughtered.
An appalling end
If sales are slow at the restaurants, shops or markets, dogs will remain caged for days or even weeks. Iron tongs around the neck will finally be used to select a dog, before he or she is killed by electrocution to the mouth or by clubbing to the head.
No life for a dog
There is simply no humane way to commercially farm or transport dogs. Dogs are:
• highly social and suffer when kept in individual cages deprived of contact with other dogs or people; equally they are stressed by group housing, often becoming aggressive
• omnivorous and need a high protein diet, but low profit margins on dog farms often mean they are fed offal or even the meat of other dogs, creating a disease-prone food chain
• in need of more space, feed and care than any farm could provide while still making a profit.
Cruel and controversial
Eating dog meat isn’t without controversy even in the countries where it is common, including China, South Korea and Vietnam. The dog meat trade is either illegal or unregulated in all the countries where it is most prevalent.
In South Korea, dogs sold for meat are not safeguarded by animal protection laws; they are also not recognised as livestock for slaughter and processing, meaning their meat cannot legally be sold. But enforcement is weak and dog meat remains on the menu.
A future free from dog meat?
Protecting animals starts with moving people to care, and the good news is that recent South Korean opinion polls suggest that eating dog meat is losing popularity, especially with younger people.
Similar polls show that the vast majority of Thai people don’t agree with eating or trading dog meat either, while in Vietnam and China the ownership and valuing of dogs as companions is growing as is opposition to their use as food.
We support the stance taken by Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong, where the slaughter of dogs for people to eat has been banned.
It is important to support local groups for a sustainable end to the dog meat trade as WSPA has done in the past in South Korea. We are now considering an approach to tackle this issue on a regional basis.