The Cruelty of Dog Meat Markets

CARE continues to investigate traditional markets in and around Seoul since Moran market’s announcement that the public slaughtering of dogs at the market will cease. However, this is still happening, including at Moran market; dogs are being taken from display cages and slaughtered in front of customers and other dogs.

Dogs have been man’s companions for millennia. They are our friends, co-workers, and protectors. They trust us and strive to please us. Evolution has tuned them to react to the slightest changes in our tone of voice, our posture, and even our smell. The species name familiaris shares the Latin root of the word for ‘family‘.

Yet we treat them with such callousness and cruelty.

Some of the dogs in the cages were someone’s companion, evident from the collars still around their necks. But for whatever reason, today they are in the dog meat cages. Maybe they were stolen and their person is distraught over their disappearance, putting up flyers and offering a reward for the return of their beloved pet. Maybe they were an unwanted gift, grew too big or noisy, or “just didn’t fit in with my lifestyle”, and sold to the dog meat vendors.

They are waiting to go home. They still smile, wag their tails, and push their noses through the bars when people approach the cages; they still love and trust people; Maybe this person will take me for a walk!

But no, the people look at them as just a piece of meat, haggling over size and weight.

Waiting in cages at Gyeong-dong market

Some of them were raised on a dog meat farm. Living in their own filth and fed with rotten food, their injuries and sicknesses untreated, they hopelessly wait for death, knowing that this is not the way that life should be. If human prisoners on death row were treated this way, there would be a public outcry; petitions, marches, and debates in parliament.

They will be slaughtered in a few days.

Maybe they will be electrocuted, blow-torched, or beaten to death, in the false belief that the adrenaline released by this abuse will make their flesh tender and tasty. Maybe they will be boiled alive and the liquid extracted to make “dog soju”—soju is a traditional distilled alcoholic drink—a supposed health tonic.

And there is nothing we can do.

South Korea’s Animal Protection Act does not prohibit the killing of dogs for food, but only prohibits killing them in a brutal way and in the open and in front of members of the same species. Various other laws both do and do not classify dogs as livestock, and so the dog meat industry goes unregulated. What laws do apply are not enforced, or are confusing and vague, and dog meat vendors ply their trade with impunity.

We need to strengthen animal protection laws.

These legal gray areas, inconsistencies, and loopholes allow for horrendous abuses and cruelty to take place. Most of the rest of the world considers dogs to be members of the family, and finds their consumption repugnant. We need to eliminate the inconsistencies, close the loopholes, and join the modern world in the condemnation of dog meat consumption. We need better enforcement and stronger penalties. We need to make the protection of the vulnerable non-human members of our society a source of national pride.

But to do that, we need need more voices raised in protest. We need to petition the government until they can’t ignore the issue. We need to force the conversation until it’s impossible to ignore. We need to ban the cruel practices of the dog meat industry, and consign dog meat consumption to history where it belongs.

If you believe this should stop, don’t just “like” us or click the angry face on Facebook; do something. You don’t have to be an animal rights activist; you can support us with donations so that we can do more to protect these animals who can’t protect themselves.

Together, we can ban dog meat.

Featured image: Gaël Chardon.

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