A formal debate in the House of Commons on Thursday November 5th will again bring attention to the dog meat trade in Asia, which sees around 30 million animals a year killed and cooked up in specialist restaurants for seemingly insatiable diners. The debate follows an Early Day Motion on January 28th 2015 which saw an almost unprecedented 142 MP’s sign a demand calling for the end to the dog meat trade in Asia. The motion was led by MP John McDonnell, and sponsored by MPs Peter Bottomley, Jeremy Corbyn, Andrew George, Jim Shannon and David Simpson.
In recent months, a growing number of British celebrities have joined the swathe of animal rights campaigners lobbying governments and calling for an end to the trade. Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench and actor and animal rights campaigner Peter Egan were amongst others who recently spearheaded a campaign and petition organised by Thailand’s Soi Dog Foundation. The petition (here) calls on the Thai government to stop illegal exports of dogs from Thailand to Laos and Vietnam, to satisfy dog meat demand in those countries.
China remains the largest consumer of dog meat in the Asian region, accounting for around 20 million dogs a year, according to animal rights campaigners. The now infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which takes place very year in the southern province of Guangxi, neighbouring with Vietnam, sees over 10,000 dogs killed and eaten in just 48 hours. Campaigners claim the animals are treated inhumanely, trussed up and packed tightly into small cages, then skinned alive in some cases. There also remains a myth that the more adrenalin running through the dogs body as it is killed, the tastier the meat.
Vietnam is the second largest consumer of dog meat in the region, with around five million dogs meeting their fate every year in the thousands of primitive slaughterhouses across the country. Demand is so high in fact, there are estimates suggesting that up to 70% of dogs in the food supply chain are stolen family pets. Over the past two years there have been numerous incidents of dog thieves being lynched by angry villagers, and even villagers being killed by the dog thieves.
Campaigners see the House of Commons debate as the first step towards the British government taking a firm stance with its Asian counterparts regarding working together to shut the industry down.