China’s Dog Meat Industry A Shame!
One look at the graphic images coming out of the Chinese dog meat industry and you would puke! Dogs, considered to be the best friend a man can have, are being treated in a shameful manner and with utmost disdain. This is happening in a country, where dog meat is revered as well as popular. Although, China’s human rights record is not much to talk about, the animals, dogs in this case, are being treated far worse than the humans in the country.
There are local markets across the country, which specifically sell dog meat. The butcher shops are filthy, dark and dank. Dogs are kept in cages, which are crowded and dirty. The photographs released recently make it clear that while dog-meat is a popular food in China, the dogs certainly are not. What else could explain the butchers’ apathy towards the dogs, who are filled up in cages, irrespective of their conditions, waiting to be butchered and then served to diners in high-end restaurants. Even transporting the dogs from one location to another is a pathetic journey. And if you were told that most of these dogs, filled up inside the butcher shops, were picked up from streets are, more often than not, pets, would you eat dog meat again? We doubt.
The irony of the China situation is that in most of the cities in the country, affluent Chinese are taking up dogs and cats as a prominent companion. However, at the same time, higher amount of disposable income is also making it possible for people to enjoy dog meat at restaurants and street-stalls. With the popularity of dog meat on the rise, the demand is growing with each passing day. However, what is not growing proportionately is sympathy for the dogs heading to the butcher shop. A blogger wrote about these unfortunate dogs, “Everyday, countless thousands of dogs (many former pets) are inhumanely caged, beaten, tortured, killed and butchered, often times publically, to feed the Chinese demand for dog meat. This activity occurs, while simultaneously three quarters of the Chinese population have indicated a desire for improved animal welfare protections and an end to the dog meat industry.” Considering the fact that China’s track record in human rights is pathetic, at its best, there is little hope for the man’s best friend there.
Eating dog meat comes historically to China, with the first consumption of dog dating back thousands of years. Dog meat, often called ‘fragrant’, is believed to have medicinal properties, as well as qualities that keep the body warm during winters. It is, therefore, that eating dog meat remains a legal and socially acceptable practice in China, apart from a few other countries like Thailand and Korea.
The Bigger Picture
There is another angle to this picture, which the animal rights activist group, PETA, has sought to pick up. In one of its blogs on its website, PETA has written that dog meat industry in China is no different than other forms of animal consumption. PETA writes, “Before we point the finger and call such people hypocrites, think of people in the Western world who have "pet" hens and pot-bellied pigs yet still eat fried chicken and ham sandwiches. They balk at eating animals they "know" but have no problem eating an animal they never met who invariably endured a miserable life on a filthy factory farm and ended up in a very scary place: the slaughterhouse.” Well, it is true and China has shown improvements in the recent years, one example of which is sacking of an ex-food chief who was found accepting bribes in lieu of clearing spurious medicines but it is unlikely that it would act similarly in case of the poor animals.
Since China has no formal animal-welfare legislation, the cruel treatment of dogs cannot be stopped legally. There have been protests, publicly as well as on the Internet, against the cruel ways of the dog meat industry but little has changed because of it. However, the concerned citizens, in China and elsewhere, are hopeful that with a growing middle class awareness, and rising living standards in the country, the dogs will have their day soon in China.