Cramped inside cages, hung from their legs, tortured until an ultimate painful and terrifying death. Sometimes even boiled alive. This is the reality of the dog meat trade in China and other countries across Asia. These horrors are all but unthinkable to those of us who grew up with dogs as best friends and members of the family. And while the vast majority of Chinese and other Asian people do not eat dog meat, the industry is still large enough to take the lives of millions of dogs — and cats — every year.
Where do People Eat Dog Meat?
Dogs have been consumed as food all over the world throughout history. But today a brutal trade persists in China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
- Though there is no hard evidence for just how many dogs are eaten in Asia, estimates predict over 10 million in China, 2 million in South Korea, and hundreds of thousands more in other countries. Many markets are unregulated and illegal trade flourishes across borders.
- Dog meat farms exist, but many dogs are stolen from their yards or picked up from the streets.
Why do People Eat Dog Meat?
One of the biggest myths surrounding the consumption of dog meat is that it is a cultural tradition. Though the practice has historical roots in some areas, it was originally an extreme measure in cases of poverty and has actually increased in the last century.
- There is no evidence of traditional dog meat consumption in South Korea over 1,000 years ago.
- In South Korea it is thought that adrenaline will produce tender meat and increase the health benefits. Dogs are purposely killed in agonizing and terrifying ways, like being hung by the legs and beaten to death, then having their fur burned off with a blowtorch. Other dogs are forced to watch.
- What was once reserved for a special celebration, dog meat is becoming more and more common in the Philippines.
- Some think dog meat will enhance masculinity and sexual performance.
- It is a belief in South Korea that eating dog meat will keep you cool and is consumed during the hot summer days. It is a belief in China that it will keep you warm.
Human Health Risks
E coli and rabies are just two diseases that can be spread by eating dog meat. There have even been large scale cholera outbreaks in Vietnam in recent years due to dog meat. Unfortunately, this harm coming to humans may be the only thing to spur governments to take action.
A younger generation of people in Asia have begun to reject the tradition of eating dog. Many have dogs as pets and, having become close to these special animals, cannot bear to consider them as food. In addition, the governments of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos have taken steps to end the illegal cross border trading of dogs for food. And in the happiest endings, some of the dogs are rescued, finding loving new homes and a life they never knew existed.
A Special Responsibility
We can’t ignore or forget that other animals suffer similar horrific existences and deserve awareness and advocacy just as much as dogs. But the fact that these are creatures that we as humans have brought along with us throughout evolution as companions and beings that rely on us for survival turns the stomach all the more. Within our moral standards lies an extra obligation to take care of them.
How to Help Stop Dog Meat
You can make a difference, even half a world away!
- Learn how Last Chance for Animals is working to end dog meat in China.
- Get updates or donate to the Duo Duo Project.
- Sign the pledge created by Humane Society International
- Write to the South Korean Government, urging them to work to stop the consumption of dog.
- Sign the petition by Soi Dog to encourage world leaders to take notice.
- Write a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, asking him to stop the meat trade and enact animal cruelty laws in China.