Every year, hundreds of thousands of pets are snatched in Thailand, then smuggled into Vietnam, destined for Hanoi’s top restaurants and street stalls. Demand for dogmeat is so high that supply has become a highly lucrative – and brutal – black market. Kate Hodal, the Guardian.
Dog meat on sale at the Kyungdong Shijang Market in Seoul, South Korea, in September 2007. Source: Wikipedia
A National Geographic clip of an African tribe eating their pet dog as part of a ceremony:
The Guardian followed patrons and traffickers in a dog meat restaurnt in Vietnam On the subject of suffering:
It is impossible to imagine any of these animals as a potential food source, not because they are dogs, but because they are abysmally thin and desperately unhealthy. There are bony puppies with broken legs; mangy mutts oozing mucus from their eyes and noses; dogs covered in their own vomit and faeces; and the carcasses of those that have already died, in plastic bags, waiting to be buried. With only 12 staff and nearly 2,000 dogs to care for, survival here is a gamble, and as the shelter’s Buddhist vets do not believe in “playing God”, staff might administer medicine to a dying dog for months on end, until finally it is no longer able to move.
Some of the dogs are rescued by activists but it remains a small percentage as the situation continues even after the “rescue”. “Of 1,965 dogs intercepted in January 2012 from a holding centre in Tha Rae and documented as being sent to [a shelter in] Buriram, 600 never arrived. We were told they’d died or run away, but they’d been sold back into the trade.” says the source from the Guardian.
But on the subject of whether the government should put an official stop to the cruelty, the 2 ways of achieving that (banning or regulating it) show little promise.
Activists in Thailand are pushing for a new animal welfare law that would protect pets such as dogs and cats from being consumed or traded for consumption. But the law has little chance of making a real difference, Lohanan says. What may work instead is the opposite approach. Few in the Thai government openly oppose the trade, but one MP, Bhumiphat Phacharasap, has suggested that regulating dogmeat would stave off corruption and ensure that animals traded are fit for food. “We could treat dogs the same way we treat cows and pigs, by ensuring they were free of disease, had been vaccinated and had export licences, and hadn’t been tortured or harmed in transportation,” he says. “In Vietnam, they farm dogs just like they farm pigs and cows. I could accept that: you do it right, you eat it right. The problem is, we would be perceived as a culture that tortures animals because dogs are ‘not for consumption’. We would be criticised. We’d be boycotted. We’d lose our trade rights [with the rest of the world].”
His worry is legitimate, at least for a culture dealing with the west, where researchers stress the historical human-dog bond and point to dogs’ intelligence, using examples such as Chaser – a border collie whose vocabulary includes more than 1,000 English words – to prove their mental capacities are comparable to those of two-year-old children. But apologists say it is hypocritical for a culture that eats sheep, cows, pigs and chickens to draw the line at dogs. Pigs, for instance, do as well as primates in certain tests and are said by some scientists to be more advanced than dogs, yet many of us eat bacon without a second thought.
This is circuitous reasoning, as Jonathan Safran Foer has argued in his book Eating Animals. He points to dogs as a plentiful and protein‑rich food source, and asks: “Can’t we get over our sentimentality?” He continues: “Unlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten. If we let dogs be dogs, and breed without interference, we would create a sustainable, local meat supply with low energy inputs that would put even the most efficient grass-based farming to shame.”
Trucks containing 130 dogs are seized on the highway between Thailand and Vietnam. Source: Luke Duggleby, The Guardian