This text narrates the extremely cruel process of how dogs and cats fall victim to the dog and cat meat trade. While reading this will be tough, we believe that in order to help end the trade, people should understand the reality these dogs and cats face.
*Please note this traumatic journey can be upsetting for some audiences. If you prefer, you can skip straight to the end and click here to take action to stop this cruel trade now.
Bereft pet owners told us how their pets were taken in the night when no one was around. They woke up to find their pets were nowhere to be found.We've come across owners desperately searching and calling for their missing pets in the street, hoping they’ve just wandered off or gotten lost – but deep down they know they’ve most likely been taken for the trade. We spoke to a shop worker who told us, that during the day, he’s seen pets with collars on or stray animals, violently snatched from the streets. The thieves use iron pincers to grab them around their necks. They force them into small cages on the back of their bikes. The thieves then speed off before anyone can stop them. Anyone who tries to stop the thieves is threatened with violence and their own safety is in jeopardy.
On our journey we passed trucks and motorbikes, overloaded with dogs and cats in small cages, their legs and muzzles bound with rope, unable to move. Our informants tell us these animals are transported for many hours, sometimes days, across provinces, sometimes countries, with no food or water, often in high temperatures. Many die along the way from stress, injuries, exhaustion, heatstroke, or from being crushed under the weight of other animals. For us it is heartbreaking having to watch the trucks go past with cages upon cages of dogs and cats, barely able to breathe, thirsty, hungry and scared, desperately wanting to return to their families or communities.
We went on to holding areas where the dogs and cats are kept, sometimes for weeks, before being slaughtered. They were kept in filthy cages and pits in the ground, crammed together with barely any room to move. In one location, we witnessed dogs being sprayed with water from a hose, they were all suffering from thirst and desperately tried to lick the water from the floor or off each other’s fur. The dogs huddled together, terrified. When we walked close to their cages, some came up to us, wagging their tails and desperate for some human kindness. We felt helpless – if only we could save them all.
Transport to the slaughterhouse
We saw a truck arrive and the holding yard workers tied up the dogs, stuffed them into sacks or cages, and roughly stacked them onto the truck. We were told they would be transported to a slaughterhouse hundreds of kilometres away, a trip that would take days and that many of them would not survive.
On a street in Vietnam lined with dog meat restaurants, we witnessed restaurant workers forcing plastic tubes into dogs’ mouths, force-feeding them rice and food waste in a bid to fatten them before slaughter. Heavier dogs fetch more money for their meat. It was unbearable watching the dogs struggle with the pain. We were told this sometimes causes the dogs to die from ruptured stomachs.
Heard enough about the dog and cat meat trade? Click here to take action to end it now.
We witnessed dogs being thrown into pits of filthy water and drowned, some were strangled with a noose through the cage or hung up until they suffocated. Some were beaten to death in their sacks or had their throats slit. At the markets we have even witnessed dogs being blow-torched and cats drowned in boiling water, sometimes whilst fully conscious. As we documented how the animals were killed, we couldn’t help but notice the dogs and cats that were still alive, cowering in their cages as they waited their turn. They could see, smell and hear it all, they sensed what was coming.
The slaughterhouse staff told us that most of them receive little, if any, training in how to kill the animals. As a result, it’s obvious that no attempts are made to minimise the distress and pain these animals feel. It’s incredibly distressing to witness, yet these workers kill so many animals a day they have become desensitised to the horror of what they are doing, and to the fact that they are putting themselves at risk working in these filthy and dangerous conditions.
Final preparation | Processing
We saw animal bodies being processed on site as well as after the transport to the restaurants. Their bodies were either placed in hot water until their skin softened so the fur could be removed, or a blowtorch was used to remove the fur. In shopfronts, we saw butchers opening the carcasses to remove organs and bones for use in other dishes. As we were told, those end up for perceived medicinal uses sometimes as well.
All for a meal | Cooking
We saw people eating dog and cat meat in restaurants after work socially with their colleagues. The meat is turned into curried dishes and the organs are used to make soups. The meat is generally roasted, grilled or steamed and served as cuts. We also saw a cook preparing gravy with the blood from slaughtered dogs. There were many local people eating the meat but also tourists trying the dish for the first time.