Anti-dog meat & fur movement building momentum in China
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
HONG KONG–“We are tackling dog and cat eating in China by
freely distributing our video Dr. Eddie: Friend….or Food? in a
pack which includes a pet care leaflet, stickers promoting dogs and
cats as friends and helpers, and a letter from Animals Asia
Foundation founder Jill Robinson explaining why we believe dogs and
cats should not be on the menu,” Animals Asia Foundation executive
director Anne Mather e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on May 29, 2005.
“We are happy to say that the response to the pack has been
absolutely overwhelming,” Mather continued. “The initial 10,000
packs, which we expected to last a year, were finished in just six
weeks! We are receiving calls from pet clubs all over China whose
members have heard of the packs and are requesting their own. Thus
we are in the midst of producing a further 40,000 for free
distribution. In addition, <www.sina.com>, (China’s biggest web
portal), is streaming the Dr. Eddie film for free on their pet site.”
The Dr. Eddie video, also available in an English version,
tells the story of a dog whom Robinson rescued from a live meat
market in Guangdong a few years ago. Eddie is now part of the Dr.
Dog therapy program in Hong Kong, one of many Dr. Dog programs begun
by the Animals Asia Foundation in major cities of Southeast Asia to
help raise appreciation of dogs wherever they might be on the menu.
After showing Dr. Eddie at work, helping humans, the video
offers black-and-white footage of humans violently abusing dogs and
cats throughout the Guangdong market where Robinson bought him.
Background scenes demonstrate that the foreground incidents
are not unusual, even with westerners present.
Those who eat dogs and cats–about 10% in southern China, 6%
in South Korea, fewer everywhere else–are adamant as ever about
continuing. Many older men eat dogs for much the same reason that
American and European counterparts might take Viagra. Some older
women, especially in South Korea, consume a tonic made from cats
who have been boiled alive.
Because Asian politics tend to be oligarchic, dominated by
older men, legislation pertaining to dog and cat consumption seems
to be going backward.
Beijing in March 2005 began issuing certificates of approval
to dog butchers, covering meat hygiene and slaughtering methods.
South Korea appears to be on the verge of repealing an
unenforced 1991 ban on selling “disgusting” foods, meaning dog and
cat meat, in favor of introducing a similar regulatory regimen.
The political setbacks follow rising affluence that enables
dog and cat eaters to eat dogs and cats more often, leading to
increased consumption and profitability for dog and cat farmers. In
China, where old resistrictions on personal mobility have recently
been eased or ignored, to attract cheap labor from the countryside,
enough dog and cat eaters are swarming into Beijing to support as
many as 100 mostly newly started restaurants that serve dogs and/or
cats (among about 14,000 restaurants in total).
But among signs of a countervailing trend, the China Animal
Agiculture Association’s National Kennel Club announced in February
2005 that there are now more than 150 million pet dogs in China, two
and a half times as many as in the U.S., for a ratio of one pet dog
per nine humans, similar to the ratios of dogs to humans in France
The U.S. and Costa Rica are the two nations with the most
dogs relative to humans, at ratios of about one dog per five humans.
India, with about one dog per 10 humans, is at the upper end of the
scale among nations where dogs mostly roam without individual
The Chinese pet industry is now worth about $60 million per
year, the CAAA National Kennel Club told the Xinhua News Agency–and
is growing fast enough to increase twelvefold within the next three
years, with projected potential to level off at about $18 billion
The U.S. pet industry has revenues of about $30 billion per
year. The British pet industry is second biggest, worldwide, at
about $6 billion per year. Animal charities in the U.S. and Britain
annually raise in donations a sum equivalent to about a 15th of the
income of the pet industry.
If the same ratio could be achieved in China, Chinese
animal-related nonprofit fundraising potential would be approximately
$4 million a year now and up to $1.2 billion a year within the
foreseeable future. That would be about as much, adjusting for
inflation, as the U.S. animal protection sector raised as recently
as the early 1990s.
Already Chinese animal defenders are able to show clout,
even without big groups to represent them. The Beijing Travel
Channel found that out after broadcasting a program on May 4 in which
a white cat was thrown from a four-story building to see how cats
adjust their bodies to survive hard falls.
The cat lived without known serious injury, but the Travel
Channel was besieged, the Beijing Times and Agence France-Presse
reported, as “Angry pet lovers posted petitions on several websites
and lodged complaints with the state broadcasting authorities and the
By May 13 the Travel Channel had apologized and pledged that
such an experiment would never again be performed or broadcast.
Live skinning expose
An even more significant hint that animal advocates are
gaining recognition and favor came on April 5, 2005, when the
Beijing News published an extensive investigative report following up
on allegations that tanuki (raccoon dogs) and foxes are routinely
skinned alive by fur traders at the Shangcun Market in Hebei
province. The market reputedly handles about 60% of the Chinese fur
The claims about live skinning were originally issued on
February 2 at press conferences convened by Swiss Animal Protection,
the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan, and Care For The Wild,
of Britain. Videotape provided to news media certainly appeared to
show live skinning, but why the animals were skinned alive was
unclear, since the technique would tend to produce damaged pelts,
of lower sale value than if the animals were killed first.
The Beijing News might have been expected to refute the
foreign allegations. Instead, photographer Chen Jie and reporter Wu
Xuejan unflinchingly affirmed them, adding critical coverage of the
conditions under which the tanuki and foxes are raised.
“Suning County,” where the Shangcun Market is located, “has
152 sizable fur farms, 65 villages specializing in fur production,
with around 10,000 farmers owning a total stock of 470,000 tanuki,
foxes, mink, and other rare and valuable animals,” the Beijing
The Beijing News learned that raising tanuki and other
species for fur is a recent development, building on the villagers’
discovery of buyers for pelts as well as meat from tanuki, who are a
raccoon-like member of the dog family. Killing dogs in the most
painful possible way prevails, in order to suffuse their flesh with
adrenalin, craved by dog-eaters.
“On 21 March 2005, this reporter learned from the Suning
County Party Committee’s propaganda department that, on hearing the
foreign reports, the local government immediately organised an
investigation of the market,” Wu Xuejan wrote.
“An official at the county’s livestock and aquatic products
bureau said that live skinning took place seven or eight years ago,
and could not happen now,” even though Chen Jie and Wu Xuejan had
just seen and photographed the whole process.
“At present China has no national animal welfare
legislation,” Wu Xuejan continued. “Only the China Wildlife
Protection Law and the Regulations on the Licensing of the Rearing
and Breeding of Protected Wildlife of National Importance contain
some sections covering the management of wildlife breeding.
“According to the [local] Regulations on Fox Slaughter,
Skinning and Initial Processing, passed on September 1, 2003 by
Cangzhou city [also in Hebei province], approved methods for killing
foxes include injection of drugs, intercardiac injection of air,
and electrocution,” Wu Xuejan added. “A Suning county livestock
official says that these standards could be applied to raccoon dogs
and other animals.”
A Shangcun Market managing committee member admitted that
“Hebei’s level of development is far behind that of developed
countries,” Wu Xuejan concluded.
Checking on dogs in Korea
In South Korea, the mobile telephone company KTF Corporation
on May 12 introduced a fee-based service for pet keepers who want to
check up on dogs left at home.
“The users must first connect to the Internet with their cell
phones,” Associated Press reported, “and then register information
about their dogs such as breed and age. The service will record the
dog’s bark. The owner will receive text messages telling them how
their pet is feeling, such as ‘I am happy’ or ‘I am frustrated.’
The service will also translate basic messages into dog sounds.”
The service may be most useful for gathering information to
help merchandisers seeking markets.
How far is the distance from citizens calling home to check
on their dogs to abolishing the dog meat trade?
An analogous situation would be the continuing participation
of about 6% of American men in sport hunting, with hunters holding
the White House and hugely disproportionate numbers of seats in most
U.S. legislative bodies.
Hunting persists in the U.S., and dog and cat eating in
Korea, because opponents are not nearly as well mobilized as
defenders of the traditional practices.
Meanwhile, Daegu residents were reportedly irate after a
burglar on May 4 blinded the right eye of one Maltese dog he met in
an apartment he was robbing, and broke several ribs of another. The
case was publicized by the Daegu-based Korea Animal Protection
Society and the Joongang Daily.
Dog thief lynched
In Thailand, where the Buddhist majority have long been at
odds with dog-eating Vietnamese refugees of ethnic Chinese descent,
who arrived during the 1970s, unidentified employees of the Wat Don
Chan temple at Chiang Mai are suspected of stealing, killing, and
eating at least six dogs who have been looked after since late 2004
by Lanna Dog Rescue.
“We found three of [the dogs] dead around a fire, along with
paws and organs stuck on sticks and left over the ashes. These dogs
were clearly killed to be eaten,” Lanna Dog Rescue volunteer Karin
Hawelka told Cindy Tilney, who reported about the incidents for the
“We also found the head and skin of one of the dogs buried
beneath the earth,” Hawelka added.
Cambodians fed up with similar incidents on May 5 simply
lynched notorious local dog thief Bun Rin, 35.
Around Prey Kabbas in the southern Takeo district, Bun Rin
“stole chickens, pigs, and dogs, dogs in particular, day and
night. His neighbours lost patience and a mob beat him to death,”
police chief Chum Chhoeun told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
“Before this happened, we arrested him at least 10 times and
educated him not to do like this,” Chum Chhoeun said, “but the
charges were too small to hold him,” as Cambodia has no humane law,
“and as soon as he was out, he would start again. Even after he
split from his wife, who sells dog meat, he continued and just sold
the dogs to others.
“Even his parents were tired of him,” Chum Chhoeun added.
“He stole dogs not to be rich, but for money to buy drink and to
feed lady friends.”
Chum Chhoeun did not expect to arrest any of the mob who killed Bun
Rin. He said there were too many participants for the police to