Dog meat is the flesh and other edible parts derived from dogs. Historically, human consumption of dog meat has been recorded in many parts of the world. In the 21st century, dog meat is consumed in some regions of China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Nigeria and it is still eaten or is legal to be eaten in other countries throughout the world. Some cultures view the consumption of dog meat as part of their traditional, ritualistic, or day-to-day cuisine, while other cultures consider consumption of dog meat a taboo, even where it had been consumed in the past. It was estimated in 2014 that worldwide, 25 million dogs are eaten each year by humans.
Various cuts of dog meat
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,096 kJ (262 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||0 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: Yong-Geun Ann (1999)
Dog breeds used for meat
The Nureongi (Korean: 누렁이) is a yellowish landrace from Korea. Similar to other native Korean dog breeds, such as the Jindo, nureongi are medium-sized spitz-type dogs, but are larger with greater musculature and a distinctive coat pattern. They are quite uniform in appearance, yellow hair and melanistic masks. Nureongi are most often used as a livestock dog, raised for its meat, and not commonly kept as pets.
The Hawaiian Poi Dog or ʻīlio (ʻīlio mākuʻe for brown-furred Poi dogs) is an extinct breed of pariah dog from Hawaiʻi which was used by Native Hawaiians as a spiritual protector of children and as a source of food.
The Tahitian Dog or ʻūrī Mā’ohi were a food source, and served by high ranking chiefs to the early European explorers who visited the islands. Captain James Cook and his crew developed a taste for the dog, with Cook noting, "For tame Animals they have Hogs, Fowls, and Dogs, the latter of which we learned to Eat from them, and few were there of us but what allow'd that a South Sea dog was next to an English Lamb."
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless)
The Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short, is a hairless breed of dog, found in toy, miniature and standard sizes.The Xolo also comes in a coated variety and all three sizes can be born to a single litter. It is also known as Mexican hairless dog in English speaking countries, is one of several breeds of hairless dog and has been used as a historical source of food for the Aztec Empire.
In 2015, The Korea Observer reported that many different pet breeds of dog are eaten in South Korea, including labradors, retrievers and cocker spaniels, and that the dogs slaughtered for their meat may include former pets.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Tallensi, the Akyims, the Kokis, and the Yaakuma, one of many cultures of Ghana, consider dog meat a delicacy. While the Mamprusi generally avoid dog meat, it is eaten in a "courtship stew" provided by a king to his royal lineage. Two Tribes in Ghana, Frafra and Dagaaba are particularly known to be "tribal playmates" and consumption of dog meat is the common bond between the two tribes. Every year around September, games are organised between these two tribes and the Dog Head is the trophy at stake for the winning tribe.
Islamic law bans the eating of dog meat as does the government of Morocco. However, the consumption of dog meat still occurs particularly in poorer regions, often being passed off as other meats as was the situation in 2009 and 2013 cases.
Dogs are eaten by various groups in some states of Nigeria, including Ondo State, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Plateau, Kalaba, Taraba and Gombe of Nigeria. They are believed to have medicinal powers.
In late 2014, the fear of contracting the Ebola virus disease from bushmeat led at least one major Nigerian newspaper to imply that eating dog meat was a healthy alternative. That paper documented a thriving trade in dog meat and slow sales of even well smoked bushmeat.
While it is not explicitly illegal to sell and serve dog meat, in order to be able to serve any meat at all for human consumption in a restaurant and for the public, the meat has to have come from a provincially licensed meat plant operator and meet the standards of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for meat inspection — and there are no provincially licensed plants approved to slaughter dogs. If a dog is killed without justification the killing could be considered cruelty, which would violate the Criminal Code, and those convicted may be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison.
In the time of the Aztec Empire in what is now central Mexico, Mexican Hairless Dogs were bred, for among other purposes, their meat. Hernán Cortés reported when he arrived in Tenochtitlan in 1519, "small gelded dogs which they breed for eating" were among the goods sold in the city markets. These dogs, Xoloitzcuintles, were often depicted in pre-Columbian Mexican pottery. The breed was almost extinct in the 1940s, but the British Military Attaché in Mexico City, Norman Wright, developed a thriving breed from some of the dogs he found in remote villages.
Reports of families eating dog meat out of choice, rather than necessity, are rare and newsworthy. Stories of families in Ohio and Newark, New Jersey, who did so made it into editions of The New York Times in 1876 and 1885.
In the early 20th century, dog meat was consumed during times of meat shortage.
On December 20, 2018, the federal Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act was signed into law. It is now illegal to slaughter a dog or cat for food in the United States.
Native North Americans
The traditional culture surrounding the consumption of dog meat varied from tribe to tribe among the original inhabitants of North America, with some tribes relishing it as a delicacy, and others (such as the Comanche) treating it as a forbidden food. Native peoples of the Great Plains, such as the Sioux and Cheyenne, consumed it, but there was a concurrent religious taboo against the meat of wild canines.
During their 1803–1806 expedition, Meriwether Lewis and the other members of the Corps of Discovery consumed dog meat, either from their own animals or supplied by Native American tribes, including the Paiutes and Wah-clel-lah Indians, a branch of the Watlatas, the Clatsop, the Teton Sioux (Lakota), the Nez Perce Indians, and the Hidatsas. Lewis and the members of the expedition ate dog meat, except William Clark, who reportedly could not bring himself to eat dogs.
The Kickapoo people include puppy meat in many of their traditional festivals. This practice has been well documented in the Works Progress Administration "Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma".
Arctic and Antarctic
British explorer Ernest Shackleton and his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition became trapped, and ultimately killed their sled dogs for food. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's party ate sled dogs during his expedition to the South Pole. This allowed the party to carry less food, thus lightening the load. When comparing sled dogs to ponies as draught animals he also notes:
there is the obvious advantage that dog can be fed on dog. One can reduce one's pack little by little, slaughtering the feebler ones and feeding the chosen with them. In this way they get fresh meat. Our dogs lived on dog's flesh and pemmican the whole way, and this enabled them to do splendid work. And if we ourselves wanted a piece of fresh meat we could cut off a delicate little fillet; it tasted to us as good as the best beef. The dogs do not object at all; as long as they get their share they do not mind what part of their comrade's carcass it comes from. All that was left after one of these canine meals was the teeth of the victim – and if it had been a really hard day, these also disappeared.
Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz were part of the Far Eastern Party, a three-man sledging team with Lieutenant B.E.S. Ninnis, to survey King George V Land, Antarctica. On 14 December 1912 Ninnis fell through a snow-covered crevasse along with most of the party's rations, and was never seen again. Mawson and Mertz turned back immediately. They had one and a half weeks' food for themselves and nothing at all for the dogs. Their meagre provisions forced them to eat their remaining sled dogs on their 315-mile (507 km) return journey. Their meat was tough, stringy and without a vestige of fat. Each animal yielded very little, and the major part was fed to the surviving dogs, which ate the meat, skin and bones until nothing remained. The men also ate the dog's brains and livers. Unfortunately eating the liver of sled dogs produces the condition hypervitaminosis A because canines have a much higher tolerance for vitamin A than humans do. Mertz suffered a quick deterioration. He developed stomach pains and became incapacitated and incoherent. On 7 January 1913, Mertz died. Mawson continued alone, eventually making it back to camp alive.
Roughly 10–20 million dogs are killed for consumption in China each year, making the country the world's largest consumer of dog meat. Although consuming dog meat is not illegal in mainland China, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has never issued quarantine procedures for slaughtering dogs. Selling dog meat as food is against the Food Safety Law of the People's Republic of China. According to the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law of the People's Republic of China (2013 Amendment), dogs need to be vaccinated. Dogs for eating are not vaccinated, so they are illegal to transport or to sell; however, despite this, approximately 20 million dogs each year are slaughtered for consumption.
The eating of dog meat in China dates back thousands of years. Dog meat (Chinese: 狗肉; pinyin: gǒu ròu) has been a source of food in some areas from around 500 BC and possibly even earlier. It has been suggested that wolves in southern China may have been domesticated as a source of meat. Mencius, the philosopher, talked about dog meat as being an edible, dietary meat. It is thought to have medicinal properties, and is especially popular in winter months in northern China, as it is believed to raise body temperature after consumption and promote warmth. Historical records have shown how in times of food scarcities (as in war-time situations), dogs could also be eaten as an emergency food source.
Dog meat is sometimes called "fragrant meat" (香肉 xiāng ròu) or "mutton of the earth" (地羊 dì yáng) in Mandarin Chinese and "3–6 fragrant meat" (Chinese: 三六香肉; Cantonese Yale: sàam luhk hèung yuhk) in Cantonese (3 plus 6 is 9 and the words "nine" and "dog" have close pronunciation. In Mandarin, "nine" and "dog" are pronounced differently).
In modern times, the extent of dog consumption in China varies by region. It is most prevalent in Guangdong, Yunnan and Guangxi, as well as the northern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. It is common to find dog meat served in restaurants in Southern China, where dogs are reared on farms for consumption (however, there are also instances of finding the meat of stolen pets in restaurant kitchens). In 2012, Chinese netizens and the Chinese police intercepted trucks transporting caged dogs to be slaughtered in localities such as Chongqing and Kunming. In 2014, 11 people in the Hunan province were sentenced to prison for allegedly poisoning over 1,000 dogs and selling the poison contaminated meat to restaurants.
Since 2009, Yulin, Guangxi, has held an annual festival of eating dog meat (purportedly a celebration of the summer solstice). In 2014, the municipal government published a statement that the festival is not a cultural tradition, but rather a commercial event held by restaurants and the public. Various dog meat dishes (and more recently, cats) are eaten, washed down by lychee wine. The festival in 2011 spanned 10 days, during which 15,000 dogs were consumed. Estimates of the number of dogs eaten during the festival range from 10,000 to 15,000. Festival organizers claim that only dogs bred specifically for consumption are used, but others claim that some of the dogs purchased for slaughter and consumption are strays or stolen pets, as evidenced by their collars. Some of the dogs eaten at the festival are burnt or boiled alive and there are reports that the dogs are sometimes clubbed or beaten to death in the belief that the increased adrenaline circulating in the dog's body adds to the flavor of the meat. At the 2015 festival, there were long queues outside large (300-seat) eateries which sold the dog meat for around £4 (€5.60) per kilogram. Prior to the 2014 festival, eight dogs (and their two cages) sold for 1,150 yuan ($185) and six puppies for 1,200 yuan. Prior to the 2015 festival, a protester bought 100 dogs for 7,000 yuan ($1,100; £710). The animal rights NGO Best Volunteer Centre claims the city has more than 100 slaughterhouses, processing between 30 and 100 dogs a day. However, the Yulin Centre for Animal Disease Control and Prevention claims the city has only eight dog slaughterhouses selling approximately 200 dogs, although this increases to about 2,000 dogs during the Yulin festival. There are several campaigns to stop the festival; more than 3,000,000 people have signed petitions against it on Weibo (China's equivalent of Twitter). One of the petitions, addressed to the Chinese Minister of Agriculture, Chen Wu, reads "Do the humane thing by saying no to this festival and save the lives of countless dogs that will fall victim to this event – an event that will butcher, skin alive, beat to death etc. thousands of innocent dogs." Prior to the 2014 festival, doctors and nurses were ordered not to eat dog meat there, and local restaurants serving dog meat were ordered to cover the word "dog" on their signs and notices.
The movement against the consumption of cat and dog meat was given added impetus by the formation of the Chinese Companion Animal Protection Network (CCAPN). Having expanded to more than 40 member societies, CCAPN began organizing protests against eating dog and cat meat in 2006, starting in Guangzhou and continuing in more than ten other cities following a positive response from the public. Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, officials ordered dog meat to be taken off the menu at its 112 official Olympic restaurants to avoid offending visitors from various nations where the consumption of dog meat is taboo.
In 2010, draft legislation was proposed to prohibit the consumption of dog meat. The legislation, however, was not expected to be enforced, despite making the consumption of dog meat illegal if it passed. In 2010, the first draft proposal of the legislation was introduced, with the rationale to protect animals from maltreatment. The legislation includes a measure to jail people for up to 15 days for eating dog meat. However, certain cultural food festivals continue to promote the meat. For example, in 2014, 10,000 dogs were killed for the Yulin dog eating festival.
As of the early 21st century, dog meat consumption is declining or disappearing. In 2014, dog meat sales decreased by a third compared to 2013. It was reported that in 2015, one of the most popular restaurants in Guangzhou serving dog meat was closed after the local government tightened regulations; the restaurant had served dog meat dishes since 1963. Other restaurants that served dog and cat meat in the Yuancun and Panyu districts also stopped serving these dishes in 2015.
In Hong Kong, the Dogs and Cats Ordinance was introduced by the British Hong Kong Government on 6 January 1950. It prohibits the slaughter of any dog or cat for use as food by fine and imprisonment. In February 1998, a Hong Konger was sentenced to one month imprisonment and a fine of two thousand HK dollars for hunting street dogs for food. Four local men were sentenced to 30 days imprisonment in December 2006 for having slaughtered two dogs.
Dog meat is believed by some in Taiwan to have health benefits, including improving circulation and raising body temperature. In 2001, the Taiwanese government imposed a ban on the sale of dog meat, due to both pressure from domestic animal welfare groups and a desire to improve international perceptions, although there were some protests. In 2007, another law was passed, significantly increasing the fines to sellers of dog meat. However, animal rights campaigners have accused the Taiwanese government of not prosecuting those who continue to slaughter and serve dog meat at restaurants.
In April 2017, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to officially ban the consumption of dog and cat meat as well as jail time for those who torture and kill animals. The Animal Protection Act amendments approved by the Legislative Yuan aims to punish the sale, purchase or consumption of dog or cat meat with fines ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$2 million. The amendments also stiffen punishment for those who intentionally harm animals to a maximum two years' imprisonment and fines of NT$200,000 to NT$2 million.
Killing dogs for meat is illegal under Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 Also, Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011 does not allow dogs, cats and other animals to be slaughtered for food.
In Nagaland, dog lovers have launched a campaign to end India's dog meat trade, which sees more than 30,000 stray and stolen dogs beaten to death with clubs each year. The consumption of dog meat is illegal in India but is carried out in Nagaland and other eastern states, where dog meat is considered to have high nutritional and medicinal value.
Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, a faith which considers dog meat, along with pork, to be haram (ritually unclean). Therefore, Muslims do not eat it. However, dog meat is eaten by several of Indonesia's non-Muslim minorities.
While reliable data on the dog meat trade in Indonesia are scarce, making it hard to establish consumption trends, animal rights activists and restaurant owners say there is a growing appetite for dog meat among members of ethnic groups who do not traditionally eat dog meat. On the resort island of Bali alone, between 60,000 and 70,000 dogs are slaughtered and eaten a year, despite lingering concerns about the spread of rabies following an outbreak of the disease there a few years ago, according to the Bali Animal Welfare Association.
The consumption of dog meat is associated with the Minahasa culture of northern Sulawesi, Maluku culture, Toraja culture, various ethnic from East Nusa Tenggara, and the Bataks of northern Sumatra. The code for restaurants or vendors selling dog meat is "RW" (Minahasan) or "B1" (Batak).
Popular Indonesian dog-meat dishes are Minahasan spicy meat dish called rica-rica. Dog meat rica-rica specifically called rica-rica "RW" which stands for Rintek Wuuk in Minahasan dialect, which means "fine hair" as a euphemism referring for fine hair found in roasted dog meat. It is cooked as Patong dish by Toraja people, and as Saksang "B1" (stands for Biang which means "dog" or "bitch" in Batak dialect) by Batak people of North Sumatra. On Java, there are several dishes made from dog meat, such as sengsu (tongseng asu), sate jamu (lit. "medicinal satay"), and kambing balap (lit. "racing goat"). Asu is Javanese for "dog".
Dog consumption in Indonesia gained attention during the 2012 U.S. Presidential election when incumbent Barack Obama was pointed out by his opponent to have eaten dog meat served by his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro when Obama was living in the country. Obama wrote about his experience of eating dog in his book Dreams of My Father, and at the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner joked about eating dog.
In Bali eating dog meat is not Balinese culture. That caused the absence of Balinese cuisine made from dog meat. Christian ethnic minority in Bali, whose ancestors have eaten dogs for generations, the power of cultural conditioning is profound. The practice developed since the arrival of a group of people to Bali in the 1970s.
The consumption of dog meat is not a feature of modern Japanese culture. There is a belief in Japan that certain dogs have special powers in their religion of Shintoism and Buddhism. Dog meat was consumed in Japan until 675 AD, when Emperor Tenmu decreed a prohibition on its consumption during the 4th through 9th months of the year. Normally a dog accompanied the emperor for battle, so it was believed that eating a dog gave emperors bad luck. In Japanese shrines certain animals are worshipped, such as dogs as it is believed they will give people a good luck charm called "Komainu". Animals are described as good luck in scrolls and Kakemono during the Kofun period, Asuka period and Nara period. According to Meisan Shojiki Ōrai (名産諸色往来) published in 1760, the meat of wild dog was sold along with boar, deer, fox, wolf, bear, raccoon dog, otter, weasel and cat in some regions of Edo.
Gaegogi (개고기) literally means "dog meat" in Korean. The term itself, however, is often mistaken as the term for Korean soup made from dog meat, which is actually called bosintang (보신탕; 補身湯, Body nourishing soup) (sometimes spelled "bo-shintang").
The consumption of dog meat in Korean culture can be traced through history. Dog bones[further explanation needed] were excavated in a neolithic settlement in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province. A wall painting in the Goguryeo Tombs complex in South Hwangghae Province, a World Heritage site which dates from the 4th century AD, depicts a slaughtered dog in a storehouse. The Balhae people also enjoyed dog meat, and the modern-day tradition of canine cuisine seems to have come from that era.
Although their Mohe ancestors did not respect dogs, the Jurchen people began to respect dogs around the time of the Ming dynasty and passed this tradition on to the Manchu. It was prohibited in Jurchen culture to use dog skin, and forbidden for Jurchens to harm, kill, and eat dogs, as the Jurchens believed the "utmost evil" was the usage of dog skin by Koreans.
According to the Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), approximately 780,000 to 1 million dogs are consumed per year in South Korea. The number is lower based on estimates of sales from Moran Market, which occupies 30–40% of dog meat market in the nation. Sales at Moran Market have been declining in the past few years, down to about 20,000 dogs per year in 2017. In recent years dog meat consumption has declined as more people have been adopting dogs as pets. Dog restaurants are also closing down, with reports saying the country's 1,500 dog meat restaurants have almost halved in recent years. Some restaurants have reported declines in consumption of 20–30% per year. A poll conducted by Gallup Korea in 2015 reported that only 20 percent of men in their 20s consumed dog meat, compared to half of those in their 50s and 60s. According to the Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), there are approximately 3,000 dog farms operating across the country, many of which receive dogs from overflow from puppy mills for the pet industry. With declining demand for dog meat in Korea, a more serious problem now is the puppy mill industry.
Dog meat is often consumed during the winter months and is either roasted or prepared in soups or stews. The most popular of these soups is bosintang and gaejang-guk, a spicy stew meant to balance the body's heat during the summer months. This is thought to ensure good health by balancing one's "qi", the believed vital energy of the body. Dog meat is also believed to increase the body temperature, so people sweat more to keep one cool during the summer (the way of dealing with heat is called Heal heat with heat (이열치열, 以熱治熱, i-yeol-chi-yeol). A 19th-century version of gaejang-guk explains the preparation of the dish by boiling dog meat with vegetables such as green onions and chili pepper powder. Variations of the dish contain chicken and bamboo shoots.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety recognizes any edible product other than drugs as food. South Korean Food Sanitary Law (식품위생법) does not include dog meat as a legal food ingredient. In the capital city of Seoul, the sale of dog meat was outlawed by regulation on February 21, 1984, by classifying dog meat as "repugnant food" (혐오식품, 嫌惡食品, hyeom-o sigpum), but the regulation was not rigorously enforced except during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2001, the Mayor of Seoul announced there would be no extra enforcement efforts to control the sale of dog meat during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was partially hosted in Seoul. In March 2008, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced its plan to put forward a policy suggestion to the central government to legally classify slaughter dogs as livestock, reigniting debate on the issue.
The primary dog breed raised for meat is a non-specific landrace, whose dogs are commonly named as Nureongi (누렁이) or Hwangu (황구). Nureongi are not the only type of dog currently slaughtered for their meat in South Korea. In 2015, The Korea Observer reported that many different pet breeds of dog are eaten in South Korea, including labradors, retrievers and cocker spaniels, and that the dogs slaughtered for their meat often include former pets.
There is a large and vocal group of Koreans (consisting of a number of animal welfare groups) who are against the practice of eating dogs. Popular television shows like 'I Love Pet' have documented, in 2011 for instance, the continued illegal sale of dog meat and slaughtering of dogs in suburban areas. The program also televised illegal dog farms and slaughterhouses, showing the unsanitary and horrific conditions of caged dogs, several of which were visibly sick with severe eye infections and malnutrition. However, despite this growing awareness, there remain some in Korea that do not eat or enjoy the meat, but do feel that it is the right of others to do so, along with a smaller but still vocal group of pro-dog cuisine people who want to popularize the consumption of dog in Korea and the rest of the world. A group of pro-dog meat individuals attempted to promote and publicize the consumption of dog meat worldwide during the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, which prompted retaliation from animal rights campaigners and prominent figures such as Brigitte Bardot to denounce the practice. Opponents of dog meat consumption in South Korea are critical of the eating of dog meat, as some dogs are beaten, burnt or hanged to make their meat more tender.
The restaurants that sell dog meat, often exclusively, do so at the risk of losing their restaurant licenses. A case of a dog meat wholesaler, charged with selling dog meat, arose in 1997 where an appeals court acquitted the dog meat wholesaler, ruling that dogs were socially accepted as food. According to the National Assembly of South Korea, more than 20,000 restaurants, including the 6,484 registered restaurants, served soups made from dog meat in Korea in 1998. In 1999 the BBC reported that 8,500 tons of dog meat were consumed annually, with another 93,600 tons used to produce a medicinal tonic called gaesoju (개소주, dog soju ). However, by 2014 only 329 restaurants served dog meat in Seoul, and the numbers are continuing to decline each year. On November 21, 2018, the South Korean government closed the Taepyeong-dong complex in Seongnam, which served as the country's main dog slaughterhouse.
In the capital city of Manila, Metro Manila Commission Ordinance 82-05 specifically prohibits the killing and selling of dogs for food. More generally, the Philippine Animal Welfare Act 1998 prohibits the killing of any animal other than cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles, with exemptions for religious, cultural, research, public safety and/or animal health reasons. Nevertheless, the consumption of dog meat is not uncommon in the Philippines, reflected in the occasional coverage in Philippine newspapers.
Asocena is a dish primarily consisting of dog meat originating from the Philippines.
In the early 1980s, there was an international outcry about dog meat consumption in the Philippines after newspapers published photos of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, with a dog carcass hanging beside her on a market stall. The British Government discussed withdrawing foreign aid and other countries, such as Australia, considered similar action. To avoid such action, the Filipino government banned the sale of dog meat, despite dog meat being the third most consumed meat, behind pork and goat and ahead of beef. The ban eventually became totally disregarded.
In Thailand dog meat consumption has been shown to have historical precedents, and dog consumption is part of mainstream culture. In recent years, the consumption of dog meat in certain areas of the country, especially in certain northeastern provinces like Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom, notably Sakon Nakhon province's Tha Rae sub-district, which has been identified as the main center for the country's lucrative, dog meat trade, has attracted widespread condemnation from the Thai population and local news media. This has led large groups of animal activists to become increasingly vocal against the consumption of dog meat and the selling of dogs that are transported through Laos to neighbouring Mekong countries, including Vietnam and China. According to news reports, a considerable number of these dogs continue to be stolen from people's homes by illegal carriers. This was also the case following the 2011 Thailand Floods. Dubbed the country's "Trade of Shame",[who said this?] Animal activists have now formed several informal animal welfare and rescue groups, particularly online, in an attempt to stop this illegal trade, with the collective attitude being that "Dogs are not food".[who said this?] Established not-for-profit animal charity organizations like the Soi Dog Foundation have also been active in raising awareness and to rehabilitate and relocate dogs rescued from trucks attempting to transport live dogs from Thailand to nearby countries. The issue has slightly impacted the nation's animal rights movement, which continues to call on the Thai government to adopt a stricter and more comprehensive animal rights law to prevent the maltreatment of pets and cruelty against all animals.
Dog meat is a delicacy popular in Timor-Leste.
Around five million dogs are slaughtered in Vietnam every year, making the country the second biggest consumer of dog meat in the world after China, which consumes roughly 20 million. The consumption has been criticized by many in Vietnam and around the world as most of the dogs are pets stolen and killed in brutal ways. Vietnam does not have strong regulations to stop the practice. Dog thieves are rarely punished, and neither are the people who buy and sell stolen meat. Dog meat is particularly popular in the urban areas of the north, and can be found in special restaurants which specifically serve dog meat.
A 2013 survey on VietNamNet, with a participation of more than 3,000 readers, showed that the majority of people, at 80%, still supported eating dog meat. Up to 66 percent of the readers said that dog meat is nutritious and has been a traditional food for a very long time. Some 13% said eating dog meat is okay but dog slaughtering must be strictly controlled in order to avoid embarrassing images.
Dog meat is believed to bring good fortune in Vietnamese culture. It is seen as being comparable in consumption to chicken or pork. In urban areas, there are neighbourhoods that contain many dog meat restaurants. For example, on Nhat Tan Street, Tây Hồ District, Hanoi, many restaurants serve dog meat. Groups of customers, usually male, seated on mats, will spend their evenings sharing plates of dog meat and drinking alcohol. The consumption of dog meat can be part of a ritual usually occurring toward the end of the lunar month for reasons of astrology and luck. Restaurants which mainly exist to serve dog meat may only open for the last half of the lunar month. Dog meat is also believed to raise men's libido. The Associated Press reported in October 2009 that a soaring economy has led to a boom in dog restaurants in Hanoi, and that this has contributed to a proliferation of dognappers. Reportedly, a 20-kilogram (44 lb) dog can sell for more than $100—roughly the monthly salary of an average Vietnamese worker. There used to be a large smuggling trade from Thailand to export dogs to Vietnam for human consumption. However, a concerted campaign between 2007 and 2014 by animal activists in Thailand, led by the Soi Dog Foundation, convinced authorities in both Thailand and Vietnam that the dog meat trade was a hindrance to efforts to tackle rabies in Southeast Asia. In 2014, Thailand introduced a new law against animal cruelty, which greatly increased penalties faced by dog smugglers. The trade is now a trickle, with no major criminal organisations involved.
Prior to 2014, more than 5 million dogs were killed for meat every year in Vietnam according to the Asia Canine Protection Alliance. However, there are indications that the desire to eat dog meat in Vietnam is waning. Part of the decline is thought to be due to an increased number of Vietnamese people keeping dogs as pets, as their incomes have risen in the past few decades. "[People] used to raise dogs to guard the house, and when they needed the meat, they ate it. Now they keep dog as pets, imported from China, Japan, and other countries. One pet dog might cost hundreds of millions of dong [100 million dong is $4,677]."
In 2018, officials in the city of Hanoi urged citizens to stop eating dog and cat meat, citing concerns about the cruel methods with which the animals are slaughtered and the diseases this practice propagates, including rabies and leptospirosis. The primary reason for this exhortation seems to be a fear that the practice of dog and cat consumption, most of which are stolen household pets, could tarnish the city's image as a "civilised and modern capital".
Generally speaking, the consumption of dog meat is taboo in Europe. This has been the case for many centuries, although exceptions have occurred in times of scarcity such as sieges or famines.
Expeditions and emergencies
There are occasional accounts of Europeans travelling in remote areas (outside of Europe) who get lost and have to eat their companion dog to survive. The explorer Benedict Allen claims to have done this, and a case in Canada was reported in 2013. This is distinct from Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, where the sled dogs were factored into the rations.
Section 6, Paragraph 2 of the law for the protection of animals (Tierschutzgesetz (TSchG)) prohibits the killing of dogs and cats for purposes of consumption as food or for other products.
Britain and Ireland
Eating dog meat is considered entirely taboo. However, Brittonic and Irish texts which date from the early Christian period suggest that dog meat was sometimes consumed but possibly in ritual contexts such as Druidic ritual trance. Sacrificial dog bones are often recovered from archaeological sites; however, they were typically treated differently, as were horses, from other food animals. One of Ireland's mythological heroes, Cuchulainn, had two geasa, or vows, one of which was to avoid the meat of dogs. The breaking of his geasa led to his death in the Irish mythology.
A few meat shops sold dog meat during the German occupation of Belgium in World War I, when food was extremely scarce. According to The New York Times, in the 19th century the Council of the Veterinary School of Belgium occasionally recommended dog meat for human consumption after being properly inspected.
Although consumption of dog meat is uncommon in France, and is now considered taboo, dog meat has been consumed in the past by the Gauls. The earliest evidence of dog consumption in France was found at Gaulish archaeological sites, where butchered dog bones were discovered. French news sources from the late 19th century carried stories reporting lines of people buying dog meat, which was described as being "beautiful and light". During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871), food shortages caused by the German blockade of the city caused the citizens of Paris to turn to alternative sources for food, including dog meat. There were lines at butchers' shops of people waiting to purchase dog meat. Dog meat was also reported as being sold by some butchers in Paris in 1910.
Dog meat has been eaten in every major German crisis since, at least, the time of Frederick the Great, and was commonly referred to as "blockade mutton". In the early 20th century, high meat prices led to widespread consumption of horse and dog meat in Germany.
The consumption of dog meat continued in the 1920s. In 1937, a meat inspection law targeted against trichinella was introduced for pigs, dogs, boars, foxes, badgers, and other carnivores. Dog meat has been prohibited in Germany since 1986.
While dog meat is not eaten, in some rural areas of Poland, especially Lesser Poland, dog fat can be made into lard, which by tradition is believed to have medicinal properties – being good for the lungs, for instance. Since the 16th century, fat from various animals, including dogs, was used as part of folk medicine, and since the 18th century dog fat has had a reputation as being beneficial for the lungs. It is worth noting that the consumption of such meat is considered taboo in Polish culture, and making lard out of dogs' fat is illegal. In 2009, a scandal erupted when a farm near Częstochowa was discovered rearing dogs to be rendered down into lard. According to Grazyna Zawada, from Gazeta Wyborcza, there were farms in Czestochowa, Klobuck, and in the Radom area, and in the decade from 2000 to 2010 six people producing dog lard were found guilty of breaching animal welfare laws (killing dogs and animal cruelty) and sentenced to jail. As of 2014[update] there have been new cases prosecuted.
In 2012, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that dogs, as well as cats, are eaten regularly by a few farmers in rural areas. While commercial slaughter and sale of dog meat is illegal, farmers are allowed to slaughter dogs for personal consumption. The favorite type of meat comes from a dog related to the Rottweiler and consumed as Mostbröckli, a form of marinated meat. Animals are slaughtered by butchers and either shot or bludgeoned.
In his 1979 book Unmentionable Cuisine, Calvin Schwabe described a Swiss dog meat recipe, gedörrtes Hundefleisch, served as paper-thin slices, as well as smoked dog ham, Hundeschinken, which is prepared by salting and drying raw dog meat.
It is illegal in Switzerland to commercially produce food made from dog meat.
Although in most states and territories there are no specific laws against eating cats and dogs, the practice is non-existent in Australian society, where domestic pets are protected by legislature and not-for-profit organisations such as the RSPCA. South Australia is the only state which specifically prohibits the eating of dog or cat meat, including the killing of a cat or dog for such purpose. However, it is illegal to sell dog meat in any Australian state or territory and each state has their own relevant animal cruelty laws.
It is legal to eat dog meat in New Zealand, but is not generally condoned. A Tongan man living in New Zealand sparked a public debate in 2009 after he cooked dog in his back yard. This prompted calls to ban the practice, although this did not happen.
Dogs were historically eaten in Tahiti and other islands of Polynesia, including Hawaii at the time of first European contact. James Cook, when first visiting Tahiti in 1769, recorded in his journal, "few were there of us but what allow'd that a South Sea Dog was next to an English Lamb, one thing in their favour is that they live entirely upon Vegetables". Calwin Schwabe reported in 1979 that dog was widely eaten in Hawaii and considered to be of higher quality than pork or chicken. When Hawaiians first encountered early British and American explorers, they were at a loss to explain the visitors' attitudes about dog meat. The Hawaiians raised both dogs and pigs as pets and for food. They could not understand why their British and American visitors only found the pig suitable for consumption. This practice seems to have died out, along with the native Hawaiian breed of dog, the unique Hawaiian Poi Dog, which was primarily used for this purpose. The consumption of domestic dog meat is still commonplace in the Kingdom of Tonga, and has also been noted in expatriate Tongan communities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.
Religious dietary laws
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