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Dog eating has gone on for centuries in China and is really culturally ingrained. Few people think there is anything wrong with it... the dog protects your home and then you eat it.... it’s a very practical approach, and perhaps in times of famine that was a logical approach of survival.

However, in this day and age where dogs are proving themselves of intrinsic benefit to humankind the world over, from search & rescue dogs, police and tracker dogs, hearing dogs for the deaf, seeing eyes for the blind, police dogs, drugs and endangered species detection dogs, seizure alert dogs (that can sense that their owner is about to have an epileptic fit and head it off). Dogs are now even being trained to sniff out cancer from urine (before the doctors or the patient have any awareness that the disease is present). Scientific papers abound showing that simply being in the company of dogs has far reaching physical and mental benefit to all of us, through sharing the unconditional love of a species, which has rightly earned the accolade of man’s, best friend. Surely this species, whose very instinct is to love, protect, guard us, and cheer us up, who literally lives to please us, surely in this 21st Century of building a more compassionate world, surely they should not be on the menu.

In China, dog meat is seen as a bit of a treat - it's something you eat mainly in the winter; it's strongly flavored meat, a bit like goat and traditionally is thought to warm the body. Dried dog penis is considered to be an aphrodisiac and is available (by the 1,000) in the market.

Ironically, in South Korea, dog meat is eaten in the summer to cool the body down - two conflicting traditions in the same continent!

Traditionally, the dog is beaten to death in order to tenderize the meat. The idea is the more adrenalin racing around the body the better it will taste. We regularly witness dogs being killed slowly, in front of each other: the dog is semi-stunned, but not enough to make it unconscious - it wakes up, completely bewildered and tries to get up, slides around in the blood of the abattoir, where other dogs are flailing around, they bang it on the nose again, and it sits up and begins to cry pitifully wondering what's going on, with blood and mucus pouring from its nose and mouth - we're told the idea is that when they finally dispatch it, they want the heart beating rapidly so that the blood will gush out fast. It's tragic.

Unfortunately, in many supermarkets in China now, you can buy dog meat, both vacuum packed and also from the butchery-deli department. Sometimes they may have a dog section, with whole carcasses hanging up, you just order up a piece and they'll lop it off for you. We've also seen lots of different herbs and spice mixes available, especially to make special "dog hot pot".

In almost any bookshop in China with a "farming" section, there will sadly be a number of books on "how to farm dogs". In addition, there are absolutely no animal welfare laws in China - any treatment of any animal is allowable.


Our research shows that cat eating is only prevalent in the South - and is pretty much unheard of outside of Guang Dung Province. Whereas dog eating is pretty much all over the country, though most popular in the South.


Dog eating is dying out in many other Asian countries: e.g. Taiwan, which today has very stringent laws against it and has just raised the fine levied on anyone charged with it. Hong Kong and Singapore (previously both were British colonies) outlawed it in the 1950's - but, in Hong Kong it was still going on in the rural areas in the 80's and early 90's - today it is virtually non-existent, and most Hong Kong Chinese are disgusted by it.

Korea is still a big problem, but there are wonderful local groups speaking out on behalf of the dogs. I'm also glad to say that the law that they were trying to pass to make a distinction between "pet dogs" and "meat dogs" has just been withdrawn - so there is some hope.

Vietnam is a major dog-eating place, though traditionally (for what it’s worth) they do not torture the dog to death.
In addition, the Philippines has outlawed dog eating except for some tribal holidays - yes, it still goes on.....but its moving in the right direction.....I also would like to say that the push to stop dog eating in these Asian countries is driven by Asians, who feel exactly the same way about it as we do!
However, it's obviously something that is growing in China, it's very hard to know the exact number of dogs eaten, but it definitely must be in the many millions a year - maybe more. Still small if you consider that it is estimated that 556 million pigs are slaughtered every year in China.


Amidst all this bad news for dogs there is hope - Animals Asia is the only group working on the ground in China on this issue and we know there are a growing number of Mainland China people who abhor dog eating! - we want to help them to find their voice, so that they are the ones calling for it to be brought to an end. Pet ownership is exploding in China and research shows that pet owners disagree with dog eating. Traditionally, entire families would live together, but today the trend is for young Chinese to move out and set up their own homes, and thus the older generation are living alone - they are lonely and the trend is to buy a dog for company. Plus with the one child family policy on the mainland, there are lots of lonely children and increasingly pet dogs are bought for company.

Under communism, dog ownership was forbidden in urban areas since it was feared as a public health hazard and seen as a sign of a bourgeois, capitalist society - in addition, because of the lack of civic education towards dogs, rabies is a big problem, in 2004 over 2,000 people died from rabies. That's a huge number and serves to make people afraid of dogs.

The license to keep a pet dog in the city was, until very recently, extortionate - around £1,500 per year - this was basically to discourage people from keeping dogs. Today, the amount has been reduced, but is still quite costly. As much as £650 a year in Guang Zhou for initial registration. However in Beijing the amount has recently been cut from £350 for initial registration of your pet to £60. The subsequent yearly fee is about £30. But still a lot of money when you consider that the average workers salary is in the region of £500 per year.

But despite this, pet ownership is growing rapidly...estimates are that there are now over half a million registered dogs in Beijing, with many millions unregistered. Having a dog is now a status symbol - it seems that long term, the pet dog industry for pampered pooches is going to be a much bigger money spinner than the meat dog industry... from doggie salons to pet food, collars, leashes, vets etc..

Obviously, attitudes to dogs are in transition (pampered pet, meat dog, pet dog, street dog, rabid mutt), and largely the growth of pets is in the cities...whilst the situation for dogs in the country is quite horrendous. Dogs have been seen as something of a pest, but China is in a state of flux, everything is changing, people are so open to new ideas, the Olympics is around the corner - and because of that, we believe that we have a window of opportunity...what we need to do, and what we have begun doing, is to raise the profile of dogs and cats, to show them as our friends and helpers, in need of our love and respect and protection.... we are reaching out to the new pet owner, who is open to seeing dogs and cats in a new light.

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