For many years now, Humane Society International has been at the forefront of a hot war against the dog and cat meat trade across Asia. We have taken on many high-profile fights and we’ve made tremendous progress, from pushing back hard against China’s Yulin dog meat festival to shuttering dog meat farms in South Korea to getting a commitment from the Indonesian government to ban the dog meat trade. We’ve also asked millions of citizens living or traveling in the countries where dog and cat meat is served to “just say no” when they sit down to dinner.
But even as we ask the people in other countries to stop eating dog and cat meat, and press their legislatures to ban it, we need to send out a loud and clear message here at home. As I explained in a recent op-ed in The Hill, we have to make it clear that in the United States too, where the trade exists, albeit on a much smaller scale, eating companion animals is not okay. Today, the U.S. House did exactly that by passing the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act, H.R. 6720, which makes it illegal to knowingly slaughter, ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell or donate a dog or cat or his or her parts for human consumption, and authorizes a fine of up to $5,000 for each violation. The bill, introduced by Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla, passed by a voice vote following a terrific floor debate by Reps. Ralph Abraham, R-La., Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Hastings.
The House also adopted a resolution urging other nations to end the dog and cat meat trade, following strong floor statements by Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Hastings, and Dina Titus, D-Nev. H. Res. 401, introduced by Reps. Hastings and Buchanan and passed by voice vote, is over the finish line now, as House resolutions don’t require action by the Senate or the president. The resolution urges the governments of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India and other nations to adopt and enforce existing laws banning the dog and cat meat trade.
Ending the consumption of dogs and cats and shuttering thousands of dog meat farms is a top priority for HSI. Passage of the bill represents an important expression of unity with Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore, which outlawed the dog meat trade, and Hong Kong and Taiwan, which banned the cat meat trade. It also helps serve as an example for other countries that could take action to end trade within their borders, including China, South Korea, Vietnam, India and Indonesia.
In another key victory for animals today, the House passed, again by voice vote, a bill that would crack down on global wildlife trafficking. The Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act, H.R. 6197, was introduced by Reps. Dan Donovan, R- N.Y., and Joaquin Castro, D- Tex., and Reps. Royce, Engel, Donovan and Titus all spoke strongly in favor of it during the floor debate. It would authorize the U.S. State Department to make cash awards for information on wildlife trafficking. The RAWR Act is an important step in the defense of wild animals like elephants, rhinos, and pangolins whose numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate because of the illegal wildlife trade.
Trafficking in wildlife is one of the most lucrative illicit activities in the world, involving tens of billions of dollars, and the United States is a big part of the problem, as one of the world’s largest markets for wildlife and wildlife parts and products. The situation is even worse here, because American trophy hunters are active in poaching and illegal trade. We need a bill that says to them and to every potential buyer or seller of such products, “don’t do it, just don’t.” The survival of some of the world’s most charismatic wild species is at stake.
The action now moves to the Senate and we hope lawmakers will work swiftly to approve both the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act and RAWR. The dog and cat meat ban mirrors provisions the Senate already passed in July as part of its Farm Bill, and approving it is a no-brainer. More than 30 million dogs and millions of cats are killed for their meat each year across Asia, and it is time we do all we can to stop this ugly trade for good. Please call your Senators and ask them to vote to pass these two important pieces of legislation to stop the cruel trade of our companion animals and preserve wildlife. It’s a one-two punch that shouldn’t be hard to deliver.