Don’t legitimise dog meat trade – stop it!

07 November 2014


By Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE

The dog meat trade survives through cruelty and criminality – in fact, that is the only way it can survive.

Today's dog meat industries in Vietnam and China are completely unregulated and raising serious health issues along with shocking cases of violent criminality.

But calling for the industry to be regulated misses the point. It can only ever be criminal. That's why we remain steadfast in the view that the only viable solution is to make the industry illegal.

While the consumption of dog meat has been practised in Asian countries for hundreds of years, never before has the consumption of dog meat caused such cruelty and come at such a high social cost.

It's believed that 5 million dogs are killed for their meat in Vietnam every year, while the figure in China exceeds 18 million.

In both these countries the dog meat industry is entirely legal, yet farming dogs for their meat has proven to be extremely difficult and economically unviable.

The cost of feeding a dog, ensuring that each fiercely territorial animal has enough space to avoid fighting, and providing the required vaccinations to prevent the spread of disease, makes dogs fundamentally unsuitable for farming.

Economically, the numbers just don't add up for farmers.


That's why the industry in these countries is wracked with the violent criminality we see in newspapers with such shocking regularity. Cutting corners, poisoning and snatching dogs, causing social disharmony as people lose their companions, jeopardising the health of end users – these will always be characteristics of the industry.

It's an industry that cannot be regulated. It's an industry that would carry on using its same illegal methods rather than succumb to rules. It would test the resources of under-funded policing in developing countries and use its ill-gotten gains to buy favour where it could.

Neither should regulation be misconstrued as a move toward an eventual future ban. It's far more likely, that regulation would give the general public the utterly false impression that cruelty can be removed from the dog meat supply chain – while the horrors continue behind closed doors.

Dog meat is not a cheap meat. Dog meat is not keeping poor people fed. It's eaten for reasons of luck or "tonic". Removing dog from people's diets would not mean anyone going hungry.

The consumption of dog meat has also become an immensely emotive subject in both Vietnam and China. Greater awareness of both the sentience of dogs and the inherent cruelty of the industry has galvanised support against the practice.

They need only follow the example of the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong all of which outlawed the slaughter and sale of dogs for food under animal welfare laws.

Instead of legitimising it with the pretence of regulation, we can end this cruel and unnecessary industry which is causing so much pain to both humans and animals.

Chengdu team - resize for blog DSC_0410x