Where else dogs and cats are eaten
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:
The ANIMAL PEOPLE files indicate
that dogs and sometimes cats are also
eaten in parts of Cambodia, China, Japan,
Laos, the Philippines, the Asian portions of
the former Soviet Union, Taiwan, Thailand,
and Vietnam––but almost exclusively by
either members of an ethnic Chinese minority,
or by remote indigenous groups.
Tibetan and Thai Buddhists especially
disapprove of dog-and-cat-eating,
because dogs and cats are believed likely to
possess reincarnated human souls. Resettled
in Tibet as part of the ongoing Beijing government
effort to subvert Buddhist influence,
ethnic Chinese immigrants are at times
accused of deliberately provoking outrage by
butchering and cooking dogs in the streets of
Lhasa. Dog-eating among refugees from
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam likewise
exascerbates ethnic strife in northern Thailand.
The start of exports of dog meat
during the mid-1990s brought widespread
suspicion that the trade is fed by pet theft.
Dog-eating––but apparently not cateating––is
known and perhaps common in
Angola, Cameroon, Lagos, and Nigeria, but
is associated with low socio-economic status.
We also have reports of dog-andcat-eating
from around the U.S., Canada,
Mexico, and Europe. Most involve either
recent ethnic Chinese immigrants from
Vietnam, Korea, and Cambodia; restauranteurs
or butchers illegally passing off dog or
cat meat as something else; or remnant members
of a few “dog-eater” Native American
tribes, who were apparently considered poor
and backward by bison-and-elk-eating neighbors
even before Europeans brought their
own notions of dog meat as taboo. The
Aztecs, whom the Spanish conqueror
Hernando Cortez found eating dogs in 1519,
were among the few dog-eaters known to
have formed an empire; dog-eating persists
among some of their isolated descendants.
Dog-eating has been reported occasionally
in Cuba, and cat-eating in Argentina,
but only during acute food shortages. A 1996
TV expose of cat-eating by Argentinian slumdwellers
brought immediate outcry for social
reform, including from the Roman Catholic
Except in Korea and China, the
numbers of dogs eaten seem relatively low.
David Derbyshire of the Daily Mail indicated
that as of 1996 the Philippine toll was about
26,000 a year. Dog-eating was banned in
Manila in 1982, and nationwide in 1998, as
result of IFAW campaigns, with exemptions
for dogs killed and eaten as part of indigenous
ritual. Dog-eating as routine practice persists,
however, in seven mountainous northern
provinces dominated by Igorot tribespeople.
Proposals to regulate rather than
abolish dog and cat killing for meat have
recently come up elsewhere in Asia––often
after such practices spread to new locations.
In Nanjing, China, for instance, an uproar
arose in January 1994 after a long-established
dog butcher began selling cats, too.
But the Hong Kong Agriculture and
Fisheries Department rejected the very concept
of allowing dog-and-cat slaughter as
recently as January 26, 1999, when a representative
wrote to Jill Robinson of Animals
Asia, “We see no way that you can kill dogs
for food in a humane manner. This includes
both how you kill the animals and also the
pre-slaughter arrangements. The dogs would
be highly stressed in a situation such as you
would have in an abattoir. There are internationally
accepted standards for slaughter of
other livestock, which minimize the stress on
the animals. For dogs there are no such standards.
There is no way that you can kill a dog
humanely” for human consumption.
Hosting the 1999 International
Horticultural Exposition, from May through
October, the city of Kunming, capital of
Yunnan province, China, banned dog meat
ads for the duration. Dog meat restaurants,
however, remain open. The expo is expected
to bring about one million foreign visitors.