Pet theft-to-eat cases prosecuted in China, Korea, Hawaii
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:
ZHENGZHOU–Eating dogs and cats is legal
in China, but stealing them isn’t, a Zhengzhou
judge emphasized recently, fining “a man
surnamed Zhang” $214, about two weeks’ wages,
for “killing and cooking what he thought was a
stray dog,” the Zhengzhou Evening News reported.
The dog was actually a lost pet belonging to a woman surnamed Liu.
Summarized China Daily, distributing the
story nationwide, “Zhang, who likes to eat dogs
and cats, hung the dog’s skin from a fence over
a bridge so that he could dry and sell it. Upon
seeing the skin, Liu tracked down Zhang and
demanded that he pay her for killing her pet.
The woman recognized her pet’s skin because she
had dyed his fur.”
Chinese state-run media have reported
increasingly critically about dog and cat
consumption in recent years. Reportage linking a
disapproved practice to crime is a frequent
prelude in China to regulatory discouragement.
Also seen recently in connection with wildlife
consumption, this trend is more familiar to
westerners in reference to praise of the Dalai
Lama, the practice of Falun Gong, and uses of
Google and Yahoo search engines to research
Zhengzhou is the capital of Henan, a
province identified in 2007 by the Guangzhou
newspaper Xin Kuai Bao as one of five that supply
cats to Guangzhou live markets. The Xin Kuai Bao
report, illustrated with photos of a cat being
beaten and boiled alive, was intensely critical
of the traffic.
The Zhengzhou case was apparently the
first publicized prosecution of a case involving
dog and cat eating in mainland China since two
men were sentenced to serve three months in
prison for marketing dog and cat meat as “rabbit”
in Shanghai in mid-1939.
A case believed to be the first Hong Kong
prosecution for dog-eating in decades ended when
the four defendants on June 28, 2007 began
serving 14-day jail sentences, reduced on appeal
from 30-day sentences issued in December 2006.
“Counsel for Lau Lap-kei, 49, Wong Yung-hung,
43, Liu Wai-hong, 41, and Wong Chun-hung, 49,
argued that a jail sentence was excessive because
no one before had received more than a suspended
sentence for such an offence,” reported Anita
Lam of the South China Morning Post.
Responded Justice Louis Tong Po-sun,
“The vast majority of Hong Kongers, whether they
keep dogs or not, no longer tolerate killing
dogs for food, nor do they believe such an act
is a trivial matter. Lenient penalties such as
fines no longer reflect the degree of public
disgust against such acts, their impact on
public hygiene, and the pain it inflicts upon
the dogs. A bad tradition should be denied and
Korea Times staff reporter Kim Rahn on
February 19, 2008 reported that “A 52-year-old
man identified as Park was booked without
physical detention on charges of theft” for
killing and attempting to cook his 69-year-old
landlady Jeon’s pet Chihuahua. Attempting to
sear the hair off the dog, Park set his clothing
on fire, and was caught when neighbors called
firefighters and police.
Korean newspapers have mostly defended
and praised dog-eating, but appear to be
following public opinion in taking a more
critical view since the broadcast of several
well-received TV exposés of the harsh treatment
of the dogs.
Covert dog-eating in Hawaii has been
under sporadic scrutiny since the December 16,
2007 arrests of then- Moanalua Golf Club
employees Saturnino Palting, 58, and Nelson
Domingo, 43, both of Kalihi, for allegedly
stealing golfer Frank Manuma’s 8-month-old German
shepherd-Labrador mix, named Caddy, who had
been tethered at the caddy shack while Manuma was
on the course. Palting and Domingo “were
indicted by an Oahu grand jury on charges of
second-degree theft and first-degree cruelty to
animals,” reported Nelson Daranciang of the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin on January 23, 2008.
“Both crimes are felonies punishable by up to
five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.