Taiwan’s parliament has approved a bill banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption. This builds on the 2001 legislation banning the sale of meat and fur of cats and dogs for “economic purposes.”
The law also bans people using a car or motorbike to pull their companion animals alongside their vehicles on a lead. Anyone caught in breach of the law faces a large fine or up to two years in prison, and having their names and photographs displayed publicly. These measures were introduced to improve and strengthen the country’s animal protection laws.
This attitude is quite contrary to that of Korean animal welfare policy which still allows the sale and slaughter of dogs for human consumption, and there is no apparent will to ban the illegal industry.
Dog meat was once regularly consumed in Taiwan, but nowadays, the animal is more likely to be considered a member of the family. The Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has adopted three retired guide dogs and two cats, Cookie and A-Tsai, a very different attitude from that of the previous Korean president, Geun Hye Park, when she abandoned her dogs to a commercial dog breeder.
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We can measure the moral maturity of a society by how it treats and protects its non-human citizens; animal rights is not just an issue for animal rights organizations. Germany and Switzerland declared animal rights in their constitutions. France passed a bill requiring surveillance cameras in every slaughter house. Korea amended its animal welfare law this year, but we still have animal cruelty cases that cannot be prosecuted under the law, and the selling and eating of dog meat is not illegal. If animals we consider members of our family cannot be protected, how can we guarantee other animals safety?
20% of Koreans live with companion animals whereas people who eat dog and cat meat are only 3% of the population. The Korean government should push forward with policies and legislation that reflect modern social attitudes about animal welfare and protection. Politicians should stop using dog meat issues only to get votes during elections and learn from Taiwan’s enlightened attitude. With presidential elections coming, we need a candidate that has the will to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat and stop this inhumane industry. We need a candidate that is serious about reducing the suffering of animals. That candidate would have the wholehearted support of animal lovers in Korea.
Now is the time to ban the consumption of dog and cat meat in Korea.
Featured image: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen ©Ashley Pon/Getty Images