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The horrifying truth of the Dog Meat Trade

The plight of working dogs in asia

Background: Nearly every second a dog is inhumanely and, in many cases, illegally slaughtered in Asia amounting to over 30M dogs killed every year for their meat. Many more are estimated to be killed across the globe according to various rescue organizations tracking the dog meat trade, however this number is not formally tracked in most countries. Much of the demand comes from China, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nagaland in northern India, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, as well as 20 countries in Africa and Switzerland. Historically, dog meat is viewed as possessing healing or other qualities in these countries. In many cases dogs are severely tortured as it is believed to enhance the taste of the dog meat. Most unfortunately in the recent months (July 2019) this included blow torching as well as skinning dogs alive in South Korea. Numerous factors contribute to the persistence of the dog meat industry including: the absence of animal welfare, humane raising, slaughtering regulations and law enforcement, criminal enterprises profiting from dog slaughter, and a general lack of awareness globally on the plight of man’s best friend in Asia and Africa.    


Some of the dogs saved from the meat trade

Countries where dog meat is consumed


What would you do if…  you walked out to your backyard to bring your dog in after a bit of playing before dinner and she was gone? Then you learned of an illegal slaughterhouse nearby wherein criminal gangs had been stealing people’s dogs and cashing them in for profit while the dogs endured horrific deaths. This happened to a Malinois owner in Chengdu, China. She tracked down her dog to such a slaughterhouse, saw her dog and filmed the slaughterhouse. She then brought the police to help as she was too scared to confront the slaughterhouse owner. Unfortunately, she was too late to save her Mal. By the time she arrived a few hours later, her Mal had been murdered by the dog butcher.

Why is this happening? While the specific root cause varies country to country, in general, there is an absence of animal welfare laws in place to regulate the treatment of any animal – in life and in death. Wherein there is some type of regulation, it is often not enforced. This is the case with dog meat trucks carrying 1000s of dogs to slaughter daily in China. Regulations state, for example, in China that each dog on the truck must have a health certificate. By and large, these dogs rarely do (since the dogs are often stolen pets or strays) and regulatory enforcement by police is rare.  Additionally, the economic model for raising dogs for consumption is difficult; however, the profits to be gained from selling stolen dogs 

to slaughter is substantial. This has fueled criminal activities wherein gangs steal pets and strays to fund their activities. It is estimated that as many as 80% of all dogs consumed in China are stolen pets – many arriving at the slaughterhouse with collars and identification tags still around their necks.  While, many Chinese activists relentlessly and with tremendous courage stop meat trucks on the highways and attempt to save dogs from the slaughterhouse, the size and geography of this issue exceeds their capacity. 

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Summary of animal welfare laws: Currently, in China, there is no nationwide law to explicitly protect any animal from abuse. While draft proposals and legislation have circulated for years, the government seems to continuously place economic development above protections for animals, workers and the environment. Hence, it is not illegal in China to maim, torture, or abuse a dog or any animal. Even though pet ownership has risen tremendously, China as an example does not legally recognize dogs as companion animals. Progress is very slowly being made. With the help of the global activist community, at this year's National Conference, Guo Changhang, member of the National CPPCC proposed: "The international community generally regards domestic dogs as friends of human beings. We recommend that the dogs be classified as companion animals for legislative protection, enhance the global influence of Chinese civilization, and help build the community of human destiny." This proposal has not yet been accepted or rejected. However, Chinese animal activists have campaigned widely in support for this proposal and the proposal has also received tremendous support from the international community. If you have presence in mainland China, it would be most helpful at this time to join in their campaigns to help build on these first small steps towards a more comprehensive national animal protection law. Ultimately, China and other nations need to embrace animal welfare laws, ban dog and cat meat, and enforce severe consequences for noncompliance. From a USA perspective, we should consider significant exportation fees and penalties on those who export to countries which lack appropriate animal welfare laws as well as remove the onerous administrative importation barriers for those rescue groups saving dogs in Asia and rehoming them in the USA or elsewhere.

In the absence of animal welfare laws, local Chinese 

activists will often file food and health code violation reports when a dog den or dog slaughterhouse is discovered. It is a great boost of morale for activists and for the international community when they are successful in permanently closing such vile establishments.

We need your help!

Thankfully, there are several actions you can take to help change this dire situation including spreading the word, volunteering with rescue organizations, and voicing your concern with your federal and state elected officials.


Help raise awareness:

n the absence of animal We need more people to become educated on this atrocity. Please talk about it with your family, your neighbors, your colleagues and in your communities. Since 86% of USA and 57% of Canada households own a pet, there is power in sharing information about this issue as sadly many are still unaware that this is happening. You can share a picture, an article, a story as well as engage in conversations with many people throughout the day about our pets. We find that these conversations are often the gateway to inform others about this brutality. While we may find it difficult to imagine the pain and loss of having our own dog stolen and sold into the dog meat trade, in many parts of the world, this is the reality for many pet owners. The public, mainstream, media and leaders in many countries still refuse to acknowledge this atrocity for fear of being too political or of going against traditions or culture differences - no matter how savage or uncivil. These are the excuses we hear as often...this is viewed as someone else's problem. We must ask ourselves then, when did our compassion have borders? When is it ever okay to ignore animal cruelty?

Get involved with a rescue organization: While there are many worthy and well-known international groups you can support, the small local rescue groups with boots on the ground are often the most impactful although relatively unknown. Thsee small local groups operate independently, often using their own personal incomes to sustain their rescue operations. We encourage you to research, network nd connect with reputable local groups who are actuvely rescuing. They face monumental challenges in the daily care and lack the network for foster/adoption placements needed abroad. Your monetary and volunteer work makes all the difference in changing the lives for these dog meat survivors. Many of these dog meat trade survivors go on to be ambassadors of the trade and become the voice for those that still need saving. A list of organizations actively saving dogs from the meat trade is provided at the end of this article.


Share your concerns with your federal, state and local officials: Please write and call your US House Representatives, your State Senators, your Mayor, your Governor, your President and Embassies. These are leaders who have the influence to raise the issue and can seek diplomatic relations with respective countries to help put an end to this cruel trade. The suffering of these dogs will only continue if we and our own government look the other way.  

“As an international community, we cannot create laws for another country, but we can support the efforts from those within and we must continue applying international pressure from every angle for the protection of man’s best friend.”

 -  Nom Aly, International Animal Rights Activist

The Impact of the dog meat trade: Research tells us that those who inflict harm on animals are highly likely to be involved in other societal ills such as criminal behavior and violence towards children and adults. Additionally, the societal, moral and ethical implications of the utter disregard for the treatment of animals underscores the absence of a civilized society. 

Lastly, and perhaps ironically, the lack of animal welfare laws also endangers humans as how animals are raised, fed, transported, kept free from disease and slaughtered are unregulated and pose a risk for humans. 


“The dog meat trade is a sea of savage crime and incomprehensible cruelty” – Bianca Fox, Executive Program Director, Plush Bears Shelter 

There is an immense and alarming disregard for the dog’s life as they are beaten, tortured and required to travel for days without food, water and are unable to literally move. They are often subject to the spread of disease which ultimately results in the disregard for human life as well for those who consume it. Now, one might rightly say that is a deserving consequence; however, it does nothing to stop the future millions of dogs who will continue to endure tortuous deaths.  

Understanding your responsibility relative to responsible breeding and exporting:

Many dogs who are dumped at Chinese slaughterhouses are abused breeding dogs. They are used until they are no longer profitable and then sold for their meat.  These dogs may come from overseas bloodlines wherein dogs are sold to the military, police or other personal protection firms who are then able to begin their own breeding programs.  In fact, genetic testing has shown at least one Mal rescued from China has several close family members in the USA – including one an IPO regional champion and another Military Working Dog.

Then due to oversupply, poor breeding practices and greed, excess dogs or those with genetic or other illnesses or deficits are sold to the slaughterhouse for quick profit. This is also seen with greyhounds in the racing industry, and other dog breeds which become popular in the media or film industry. Given the lack of responsible breeding as well as animal welfare laws to protect dogs from abuse and torture, working dog breeders are strongly cautioned against exporting dogs in general.  Additionally, thoughtful contract clauses should be considered to require the tracking, tracing and control of the whereabouts of all dogs. Additionally, clauses prohibiting new owners from exporting dogs or their offspring are highly encouraged.

Laws prohibiting working dogs in China: The laws in China prohibit ownership of large breeds higher than the knee in urban and metropolitan areas. Currently, people are having their dogs taken from them and either beaten or drowned by police. Any stray or unregistered dog is vulnerable to experiencing such a horrible death. The culling of dogs was initially aimed at reducing rabies even though rabies vaccine is widely available. Banned breeds include: Tibetan Mastiff, Boxer, Chinese Rural Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Dobermann, Belgian Shepherd, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa, Central Asian Shepherd Dog, Irish Setter, Greyhound, German Shepherd, Chinese Choingqing Dog, Great Dane, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Neapolitan Mastiff, Bedlington Terrier, Kerry Blue terrier, Staffordshire Bull terrier, Afghan Hound, Pointer, Akita, New-foundland, Weimaraner, Bloodhound, and Basenji. 

Ironically the military and police use many of these dogs extensively in security and detection work. 

How you can help end the dog meat trade:

There are hundreds of animal rescue and welfare organizations working tirelessly to enact animal welfare laws to protect animals from abuse and put an end the dog meat trade around the world. If you are interested in supporting these efforts in your local area, fostering, adopting, fundraising and or advocating for animal rights, please consider contacting one of the organizations below.  

Please support organizations rescuing working (and all) dogs from the meat trade through donation, advocacy, as well as adoption:

Written & Curated by:  Aloha McBride

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