In Animal Rights

Animal welfare across cultures

A friend of mine called me and suggested I write about the Yulin lychee and dog meat festival which takes place in China every year during the summer solstice. I was reticent to do so due to the morbidity of the story but being an animal activist I cannot turn my head the other way. What I discovered was way more gruesome than I could ever have imagined.

The practice of eating dog meat in China can be traced as far back as 400 years ago although the Yulin dog meat festival began in the 1990’s. The dog meat trade is quite barbaric given the fact that household and stray dogs, which account for 80% of these animals, are hunted and killed by poisonous darts, crossbows, metal traps and nets. The dogs that make it alive to the festival are packed in wood or steel cages, paraded around the grounds, and hung alive to be displayed to potential buyers.  Tens of thousands of dogs are severely abused during this 10-day festival. They are beaten and put into bags alive.  When bought they are skinned (sometimes live) and then cooked.  I admit I was outraged and disgusted at the gruesome images and videos I watched to write this story.

The dog meat trade seems entirely appalling for us North Americans, but it is practiced in some parts of the world mainly in Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Korea and Vietnam. Disgusting?  Sure. But the real shocker is what I found out while digging for information: dog and cat meat consumption by humans are not explicitly illegal in Canada.  According to an article published in 2015 in the Toronto Star, four dog carcasses were found in the freezer of a Chinese restaurant in Alberta in 2003, and the local health inspector said there was no law against it.

“To be available to serve in a restaurant and for the public, the meat has to be inspected,” Capital Health Authority’s Nelson Fok told the CBC.

The slaughter of animals for food in Canada is a provincially licensed activity, which means meat plant operators must obtain a license.

“For a meat plant operator to obtain a license for dog meat, it must be proven that the slaughter of dogs fits within the definition of food animals,” said Susan Micallef, a spokesperson Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Animals raised for food have to be kept in captivity and raised for the sole purpose of human consumption except for hunted game animals.  Therefore for a meat processor to obtain a license to slaughter dogs for food, it would have to prove that the dogs were raised solely for food and were never meant to be petted.  There are no provincially licensed plants approved to slaughter dogs although this practice still exists being pushed underground due its unpopularity and regulations.

The role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is to set the standards for meat inspection across the country and to regulate meat importation. Fortunately, there is no category for dog meat. But I still find it hard to believe that in 2017 Canada has no animal-rights law which would entirely forbid this practice. In my opinion, no animal needs to be killed to feed, clothe, entertain or be experimented on for personal gratification; let alone the ones we view as our companions.

I am vegan therefore I do not eat any animal or animal by-product, and this decision was partly due to the torture that farm animals endure in industrial farming.  I truly believe that animals are sentient beings and that the non-existence of laws regarding the prohibition of dog meat production as well as the lack of regulations concerning the welfare of animals in industrial farming in Canada is nothing else but disheartening.

What can you do to help? There are many organizations you can support to help end the suffering of these animals.  You can also make a difference by not consuming animals or at least reducing your intake of animal products. Also, putting your money where it matters by supporting companies that consider animal rights, putting pressure on governments by signing petitions that protect animals, as well as donating to animal welfare organizations. You can also save animals from a life of suffering by adopting one or sharing this information with others as to raise awareness. I listed a few organizations where you can help with a suggestion:

. The Humane Society International

. Animal Justice Canada

. Stop the Yulin dog meat festival

. Stop Yulin dog eating festival

Please help end the needless suffering of animals which has been going on for far too long. Together let’s give animals back their inherent rights and freedoms and by doing so making this world a gentler place to live.

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