Wednesday, October 14, 2009

(Cruel) Food For Thought #2

Let's be upfront, this blog is about dogs.... and their meat.

It is a tough topic to discuss because of the polarity between 'pets' and 'food'.

Other than the vegetarians, people from around the world eat meat. Some of them eat meats which are less familiar to others and their choices are viewed as unacceptable.

What makes a type of meat more acceptable than another type? Why is eating chicken more acceptable than eating dog meat? If eating dog meat is considered part of the local tradition and culture, would it be less of a taboo?

As I am shooting these questions, dogs are being killed for food in many parts of the world especially in China, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan. While I may look at these people curiously and even angrily on their choice of food, they probably cannot appreciate why that could be so bad.

People in the dog meat industry see their trade no differently from those in pork, beef and the like.
You can even buy dog meat online on websites such as 'Puppybeef'. (I am thoroughly disgusted!)

However, one thing I am rather certain: whatever choice of meat we eat, animal cruelty is totally not acceptable to me.

Many countries have outlawed the sale of dog meat. However, that does not mean that dog meat has ceased to be available in these places.

A case in point is South Korea.

The government of South Korea has said 'no' to dog meat since 1984. However, the relevant law is half-heartedly enforced and dog meat trade in Korea is not shying away from public view. It was reported in a BBC article that 'there are more than 6,000 restaurants across Korea selling dog meat soup'.

In 1988, when South Korea was hosting the Summer Olympics, the government was under pressure to avoid antagonizing anti-dog meat activists. The citizens were asked not to consume dog meat to avoid bad publicity during the games. Again in 2002, when FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea, the government was demanded by animal rights groups such as PETA to have dog meat outlawed.

The protests come from outside as well as within South Korea. I see that there are two main reasons why so many people cannot accept dog meat as a choice of food.

1) Dogs are pets.

According to a survey conducted a few years ago, 62% of Koreans aged under 30 regard dogs as pets, not food. There is a large group of people, including the Koreans, view eating animals which are considered companions offensive.

2) Cruel practice

Dogs are said to be beaten to death before they are turned into food. This is so that fear is induced and the adrenaline released would help to make the meat tender. However, the dog farmers are saying that the practice has since ceased.

I don't think so.

Just last week, it was report in The Seoul Times that, as part of the World Animal day (4 Oct 09) program, 250,000 people in South Korea stood up against dog meat industry. An online petition site was put up to gather support to the "Stop Killing Dogs' campaign.

Over 2 million dogs are killed for food in South Korea each year. Not all are farmed as some were either abandoned or stolen pets. They are put through great suffering and deprivation, being hanged, electrocuted, burned or beaten to death. This is happening notwithstanding that South Korea has put in place Animal Protection Law since early 1990s.

I watched the video, 'A Dog's Life', put up by 'United Dogs' and I hated what I saw. I signed the petition but it did not make me feel any less disturbed. It was bad.

So far, a quarter million people have given their support. As soon as one million signatures have been gathered, the Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) will present the petition to the officials in Seoul.

I am glad that dog meat is not found in Singapore. I hope that more places in the world can agree to put a stop to the practice of killing dogs for food. After I signed the petition, I noticed that another 742,418 more signatures would be needed to reach the target of one million. We need more people to come and 'stop brutal torture of dogs and dog meat consumption in South Korea'.

Why don't you help too by signing the petition?

"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend."
~Corey Ford~

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