An estimated 30 million dogs and an unknown number of cats enter the meat trade every year making it arguably one of the most severe companion animal welfare issues in Asia. Motivations differ in each country where dog and cat meat is consumed – In some, dog meat is viewed as an inexpensive protein source or cultural dish while in others, it is believed to have a medicinal purpose. As pet ownership rises and dogs and cats are viewed more as members of the family rather than as food, the trade is causing a considerable amount of societal discontent. In many countries, there is growing local opposition to the trade.
Animal Welfare Issues
Large numbers of dogs and cats are stolen from their owners, snatched from the streets, or sourced from farms, transported long distances and inhumanely slaughtered. Investigations have documented the severe cruelty in all stages of the dog meat trade including sourcing, transport, sale, and slaughter. Dogs are typically caught with iron pinchers or makeshift metal lassos.
Once captured, dogs and cats are transported for many hours or even days. They are packed tightly into cages without food or water, and many die during the journey due to suffocation, dehydration, and injury. Following transport, dogs and cats are slaughtered either at a restaurant or market. Slaughter methods vary between countries but typically include bludgeoning with a metal pipe, being stabbed in the chest with a large knife, or electrocution. This is usually done in full view of other animals awaiting slaughter.
A Threat to Human Health
The dog and cat meat trade is the only trade known to encourage the mass movement of unvaccinated companion animals domestically and internationally. This movement undermines local rabies control efforts and is in contravention to recommendations from prominent human health organisations.
The slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats destined for human consumption pose a risk to human health in the form of disease transmission, notably rabies, but also cholera and trichinellosis. Studies have demonstrated an alarming incidence of rabies-infected dogs in restaurants, slaughterhouses, and markets.
- Government collaboration to enforce existing animal transportation and rabies control legislation
- Behaviour change campaigns to decrease the consumption of dog and cat meat and improve the public perception of cats and dogs
- Public education to improve awareness of animal welfare issues and the public health threat dog meat poses
- Support of local charities that are working tirelessly to end the trade in their communities
- Humane and sustainable dog and cat population management program
In order to stop this horrific trade, FOUR PAWS is a member of several dog meat coalitions active in Vietnam and Indonesia, and operates programs throughout Southeast Asia to promote animal welfare, support local charities, and improve the regional capacity for tackling this trade.
Asia Canine Protection Alliance
An estimated 5 million dogs and over 1 million cats fall victim to the dog and cat meat trade every year in Vietnam. The Asia Canine Protection Alliance is an international alliance of animal protection organisations committed to ending the illegal trade of dogs in Vietnam, destined to supply restaurants and markets throughout the country. ACPA is working to build collaborative relationships with the governments throughout Southeast Asia where the dog meat trade is prevalent. ACPA has already secured a moratorium on the trade in dogs between Thailand and Vietnam and Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health has issued a directive to stop the illegal import of dogs.
Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition
Every year in Indonesia, millions of dogs are brutally collected and transported throughout the country for the dog meat trade. The majority are stolen family pets which are illegally trafficked to slaughterhouses and markets. Their legs and muzzles are frequently bound so tightly that they can’t move or breathe, and are driven on extremely long journeys throughout the country to supply local markets. FOUR PAWS and the Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition is calling on Indonesian President Widodo to protect cats and dogs from the cruelty associated with this trade. Sign also the petition to save dogs & cats in Indonesia.
Southeast Asia Partnership Program
FOUR PAWS operates exciting animal welfare programs in collaboration with local charities throughout Southeast Asia. Our programs are designed to promote animal welfare in the region by humanely managing stray animal populations, reducing pet theft and trafficking, public education, and promoting responsible pet ownership in Asia.
In light of the animal welfare and public health concerns, FOUR PAWS strongly condemns the dog and cat meat trade and supports legislation aimed at banning this inhumane and dangerous trade. FOUR PAWS recognises that the issue is complex, and ending the trade requires a genuine understanding of the situation on the ground in specific locations and a multi-pronged approach.