If we are going to ask the rest of the world to end the era of dog- and cat-meat consumption, we have to establish a bright-line legal standard against the practice in the United States. We took one big step toward achieving that goal today by working with some of our strongest congressional allies. U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Dave Trott, R-Mich. and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., have just introduced legislation that would ban the dog and cat meat trade in America.
Ending dog-meat eating, and shuttering thousands of dog meat farms, is one of the top priorities for Humane Society International. Estimates suggest that butchers kill 30 million dogs a year across Asia. There are around 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea alone. Cats fall victim to this cruel trade too, with several million killed annually in China, and the trade has been documented in other countries as well.
While consumption of dog and cat meat in the United States is limited, it does exist. It is imperative that we strike it down so that it will not expand, and so that we send a signal to the world that we are taking action against the trade here at home. The passage of a bill here condemning this trade would help shine a spotlight on those countries where this industry is not yet outlawed, and where our work and intervention are desperately needed.
This new bill, the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act of 2017, would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the slaughter and trade of dogs and cats for human consumption, and would provide penalties for individuals involved in the dog or cat meat trade. The legislation would also serve as an important expression of unity with countries and regions such as Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan that have dog meat bans in place, and help us in our work to end the trade in other countries, including China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
On January 6th, Rep. Hastings — who’s been a tireless leader on the topic — reintroduced his Congressional Resolution condemning China’s Yulin dog meat festival (H. Res. 30, currently with the bipartisan support of 107 cosponsors). The legislation introduced today builds on that effort, and very meaningfully.
Thanks in part to our campaign, consumer interest in dog meat is dropping. HSI, working with local partners, is making progress toward stopping the dog meat festival in Yulin, where butchers and traders slaughter thousands of dogs and cats each year. We have turned global media attention to this gruesome spectacle, and as a result, the festival has shrunk considerably in size since the original festival began in 2010. HSI and its local partners also have been working to rescue dogs from trucks bound for the dog meat markets. In China and in South Korea, we are rescuing dogs and giving them a second chance at life. We’ve brought hundreds of dogs back from these countries, saving them from being butchered, and worked with our Shelter Placement Partners to find them new, loving, lifelong homes. A sharper turnaround in their lives could not be imagined.
It’s time to end the ugly, long-concealed era of people eating companion animals. When we achieve that goal, it will be one more step in our social and cultural evolution for the better. Call your lawmakers, and help us move ahead by getting this legislation passed in Congress.