Eating dog meat is illegal in South Korea. But what is happening in the rest of the world?

He was welcomed and historical event The ban on breeding, killing and selling meat dog in South Koreawhere it is estimated that between one thousand and three thousand food dog breeders are still legally operating for a total of from 500 thousand to 1 million animals destined for slaughter. IN the Korean republicwhich, with its 51 million inhabitants, occupies the southern part of the Korean peninsula (of course, no data are available on the consumption of dog meat in the northern part of the country, in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea where there is a totalitarian dictatorship) the ban will come into effect in six months with a three-year transition period: a business that revolves around the breeding and consumption of dog meat it will be officially illegal from 2027with penalties of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million South Korean won (around 20 thousand euros).

But what is happening in the rest of the world? Although today dogs are faithful companions of people everywhere and are increasingly considered active members of the family in every latitude, it cannot be forgotten that only Jewish and Islamic cultures forbid the use of their meat for food purposes. In both cultures, the use of dog meat as food is actually prohibited. in West instead, the relationship between humans and dogs is so structured and positive that it even makes the idea of ​​eating them offensive. Despite this in some countries North America and in Europe dogs can still be legally eaten: v Canada, for example, there is no real ban on the consumption of dog meat, as is also the case in Russia. In December 2018, former US President Donald Trump signed Farm Bill, the main instrument of United States agricultural and food policy, which contains an explicit ban on the consumption and marketing of dog and cat meat. In Italy, however, the Honorable Brambilla has introduced a bill (AC1720) to the House of Commons which contains the same express prohibition. L‘Australia prohibits their sale and slaughter, but not their consumption. While also in Africa there are still some countries where the consumption of dog meat is allowed, and it is perfectly legal Rwanda, Nigeria and Namibia.

L’Asia is certainly the main source of consumption of dog and, to a lesser extent, cat meat. “Thirty million dogs and ten million cats are killed each year in Asia for trade and consumption of their meat to meet demand in countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Korea” explains Martin Pluda director for Italy HSI Humane Society International which in 2015 launched the program “Models for change“, which made it possible for us close 18 farms in South Korea, saves more than 2,700 dogs and offers breeders alternative commercial options to their kennels.

It is certainly the most striking of all Asian countries Chinapartly because we are talking about high numbers – to say the least ten million dogs and four million cats killed and consumed each year – partly because every year the month of June forces us to remember what has been happening since 2010 to Yulin where for a banal business marketing operation that has nothing to do with tradition, the appointment of s Dog Meat Festival.

Fortunately, the 2023 edition of the festival featured the simultaneous dissemination of a survey requested by Humane Society International and its Chinese partner, Vshine, and commissioned by a Chinese survey company. Suzhou Zhongyan Science and Technology Inc. which showed that only a minority of Yulin residents (19.3%) oppose a ban on this brutal trade, while 70% say the ban would have no significant impact on their lives. A very large number, 81%, instead said they would not oppose a ban on eating dog and cat meat, as some cities in mainland China have already done in 2020, such as Shenzhen. As HSI points out “Despite the fact that the numbers are shocking – points out Martina Pluda – contrary to what one might think, the consumption of dogs and cats is not very widespread in China. In fact, 20 percent of Chinese people rarely eat dog meat, and 52 percent are in favor of banning it. This store is mainly focused on South Chinacentral and northeastern”.

Only in 2020 Chinese cities Shenzhen and Zhuhai introduced bans on the consumption of dog and cat meat and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China issued an official statement that dogs are pets and not “cattle” intended for human consumption. However, HSI points out that «The trade in dog and cat meat in China is strongly encouraged criminal activity, because they are mostly stolen pets and strays caught on the street. Those who carry out these acts are rarely identified and prosecuted.”

And if Dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines and in the province Siem Reap in Cambodia, another Asian country still heavily associated with the dog meat trade Vietnam, where it is estimated that they are traded and approximately slaughtered each year five million dogs and one million cats. “While the sale and consumption of dog meat is not illegal in the country – explains Pluda – the trans-provincial, unmonitored movement of dogs has been banned since 2009, and pet theft was made a criminal offense in 2016. Although several cities, incl Hanoi and Hoi Anhave made efforts to end this trade, the laws are rarely enforced.” In Vietnam, the consumption of dog meat is closely associated with some beliefs that attribute beneficial effects to this type of meat, especially if consumed during the hottest times of the year: therefore consumption peaks in the summer, especially in the northern region of the country, in the provinces around Hanoi.

In central Vietnam, however, especially the ancient city Hoi An he was famous for his lanterns the first Vietnamese city to bandog and cat meat in 2021 thanks to the commitment signed by the mayor of the city in cooperation with the association for the defense of animal rights Four Paws International. “Although there is no scientific proof, popular belief attributes medicinal and virility-enhancing properties to dog meat. In addition, public health and safety in Vietnam is at risk anger which kills around seventy people a year – explains ka Pluda. – Most of these cases are related to dog bites and a significant number are directly related to the slaughter and consumption of dogs. A 2016-2017 study on samples taken from dogs from Hanoi slaughterhouses, conducted in collaboration with the National Veterinary Diagnostic Center of Vietnam, revealed that one in a hundred dogs suffered from rabies.”

Finally, in Indonesia There is no national legislation to restrict the trade and consumption of dog and cat meat, although at least one million dogs and an unclear number of cats are affected by the phenomenon each year. However, the real problem in Indonesia seems to be a problem anger closely related to the lack of rules regarding the movement of animals from one island to another. “In order to respond to this problem – explains Pluda again. – Food, Maritime and Fisheries Safety Service Jakarta published the ban to limit trade in animals that can carry rabies and non-food animal products for reasons of public health. The provision refers to the so-called Jakarta Special Area, Indonesia’s most populous metropolitan area, comprising the capital, five satellite cities and three full regencies, including parts of the western provinces of Java and Banten. The dog meat trade is now banned 21 cities and regions of Indonesia: Karanganyar, Sukoharjo, Semarang, Blora, Brebes, Purbalingga, Mojokerto, Temanggung, Jepara and Magelang; Salatiga, Malang, Semarang, Magelang, Blitar, Mojokerto, Medan, Surabaya and from March 2023 also in the capital Jakarta”.

Return to South Korea a survey he recently published Animal welfare awareness, research and education (Aware), according to which 94% of respondents stated that they had not eaten dog meat in the last year and 93% assured that they no longer planned to do so in the future. However, it should be remembered that unlike all countries where this way of consuming food exists, South Korea is the only country where they have existed so far breeding dogs intended for the table is legal, with special preferences for some breeds. “Besides Elsewhere – the national breed – and in addition to mastiffs typically raised for meat, many facilities also breed labradors, Golden retrieversCocker Spaniel, Husky, Beagles and other breeds – explains Pluda again. – It is estimated that about one and a half million dogs could be kept in them more than a thousand farms throughout the country. Confined in small wire cages, with little food and water, without stimulation, comfort, shelter or adequate veterinary care, they suffer immensely both physically and psychologically. Death occurs by electric current.”

Older generations are interested in this type of food, convinced that eating dog meat in the stifling summer heat brings relief. “In October 2019, the mayor of the city Seoul declared the city to be “simple dog slaughter”, while in December 2021 the South Korean government established an inter-ministerial task force to work on a ban and in 2022 first lady Kim Keon-hee she spoke publicly in favor of this legislative intervention. It is proving to be an effective method of promoting change specific programs and direct interventions that provide alternatives to farmers and alleviate economic hardships resulting from business closures.

There are a few cases, also thanks to the program “Models for Change” launched in 2015 by the Humane Society International about the changes in the lives of farmers that meant saving hundreds of animals. Just like in the case of South Korean farmer Hwan Kim which in 2020 asked HSI for help to close its slaughter dog farm in Haemi after 40 years, where 170 puppies and adult dogs lived in truly deplorable conditions. “Selling dog meat has no future. The market is already dying and will definitely crash’ was the motivation that pushed him to change.

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