Humans have well-established relationships with dogs that date back to 15,000 BC. There are about
50 million dogs in North American homes and 110 million in China. While most people today treasure
dogs as companion animals, many are still being raised as livestock for human consumption.
The truth about the dog meat trade. Killing dogs for meat is a serious animal welfare issue in Asian
countries. It's a billion-dollar industry. 30 million dogs are killed annually in Asia for human
consumption. In Vietnam, five million dogs are slaughtered yearly. In South Korea, one million are
slaughtered. In response to public outcry, the nation decided to make killing dogs for food illegal but
eating dog meat however is still accepted. China may have one of the densest pet dog populations.
But it also has one of the highest numbers of dogs killed for food. In the estimated 10 million dogs
killed for dog meat in the country every year. Only 20% of the population eats it. While 65% have
never even tried it.
Why eat a dog? At the beginning of the first millennium in 206 AD, China was in a feudal state during
the Han Dynasty. At the time it was common to eat dog meat. Farmers often resorted to slaughtering
their dogs to supplement their limited diet of rice and millet. By the Sui and Tang dynasties from 508
AD to 907 AD, people began to eschew eating dog meat as they started to see dogs as loyal
companions. Over the centuries, food availability began to rise and people of today no longer need
to rely on dog meat for sustenance. The eating dog may seem inhumane to many but for some in
Asian cultures, there's a myth that pet dogs are different than meat dogs. Animal welfare groups
such as Soi Dog are actively trying to bust that myth and educate the public on the cruelty that is
involved in slaughtering dogs for food.
The group launched a campaign in South Korea called A Dog Is A Dog to combat the misinformed
notion that meat dogs do not have a soul or feelings while pet dogs do. The dog meat trade is
considered inhumane for many reasons. The dogs are raised on factory farms and cramped in
unsanitary conditions. Animals Asia notes that a large percentage of dogs were either originally
vulnerable strays or in many cases, pet dogs stolen from families' homes. Dogs are tortured for hours
before being skinned alive in boiling water, burned alive, hanged, or electrocuted. According to Soi
Dog, the reason for torturing these creatures is due to the belief that pain inflicted will tenderize the
meat. Dogs are shipped to meat markets in cramped cages and they arrive dehydrated, injured, and
exhausted. As they watch other dogs get bludgeoned to death.
President of Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, Kitty Block
visited one of South Korea's 17,000 dog meat farms before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and
was quote, heartbroken to see how starved these animals were. Not just for food but human
attention. As the inhumane reality behind the dog meat trade is coming to light, there has been
major controversy surrounding China's popular Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The Yulin Festival goes by
the official name the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival and 2019's event will take place from June 21st to June 30th. During this time an estimated 10,000 dogs will be tortured and eaten. Animal activists have reported that dogs are publicly clubbed to death at the festival and that its hygiene practices do not meet the requirements of Chinese regulations. In China, activists are working hard to end the dog meat trade.
Organizations such as Soi Dog, Animals Asia, and Humane Society International are facilitating
rescues in China to save vulnerable dogs. And they're also addressing the industry's systemic issues.
HSI launched China Animal Protection Power, a team of activists that work with local authorities to
pull over trucks jammed with illegally acquired and illegally transported dogs and cats. There is even
a ban on dog meat in Hong Kong. Dog meat bans have been introduced in other eastern countries
too. The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore. More recently, Indonesia has pledged support
for a ban. In the U.S., a bill was introduced in late 2018 to ban the import, export, and slaughter of
cats and dogs for human consumption. A similar bill has been introduced in the UK that would ban
the sale of dog meat across the country.