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Shocker! Hollywood Celebs Protest Dog and Cat Meat Trade in Korea, China – U.S. Must Fix Its Own Laws

ANIMAL WATCH-A widely shared online post, claiming a Los Angeles restaurant had a court’s permission to kill up to three dogs a day for public consumption, was “fake news,” according to CBS.

 Each year since it first appeared in 2014, this rumor is reposted -- often just before the Yulin Dog-Meat Festival in China, which “celebrates” the summer solstice. Animal lovers panic and bring their pets inside (which is not a bad thing); however, Los Angeles County Health Department reports it has no record of a restaurant by that name. 

This year, a petition to Senator Diane Feinstein, Stop the Puchow de Manila Eatery and Fine Dining in Los Angeles from Slaughtering Dogs for their restaurant quickly gathered 5,865 signatures on Change.org.  

The petition claims, “A Filipino activist group effectively contended that the banning of the use of canine meat did not respect their religious rights. The Puchow de Manila Eatery and Fine Dining has been granted temporary consent to offer and consume dog meat, while the Supreme Court chooses if their case has merit.” It included a description of the menu, “...the dishes will run from American styled cooking, for example, Chihuahua Chops to Korean-propelled dishes (canine soup),” and warned, "If we allow this restaurant to do this then others will want to do the same. This is not what we do in the United States. Animals have rights." 

But this may not be completely true: Forty-three states in the U.S. do not prohibit eating dog and cat meat. That could soon change. 

PRISCILLA PRESLEY, KIM BASINGER JOIN PROTEST 

Last Chance for Animals (LCA), a national animal-protection organization since 1984, invited Hollywood celebrities to spearhead a protest held on July 17, to raise awareness in America about the annual "inhumane slaughter" of over one-million dogs in the Korean dog-meat trade. Posters and banners by LCA, and “Stop Dog Meat” t-shirts were provided. 

Among those who marched outside the office of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles were Kim Bassinger, Priscilla Presley, Dona D'Errico of "Baywatch" and voice actress E.G. Dailey, all carrying the bodies of dead dogs, USA Today reported. 

LCA and its South Korean sister organization, Animal Liberation Wave (ALW), held three demonstrations simultaneously on Tuesday. The other protests took place in Washington, D.C. and in Seoul, South Korea; but Los Angeles was the only city with celebrities and dead dogs. (The dead animals used in the Los Angeles protest were acquired from a local animal shelter and were later cremated, according to LCLA Founder Chris DeRose.) 

The protests are being held on Bok Nal, the first of three non-consecutive days, known as the hottest days of the Korean summer. Dog meat consumption “rises exponentially this time of year in South Korea, and dog-meat soup, known as ‘Boshintang,’ is the food of choice to combat the extreme heat and humidity,” according to the LCA website. 

Protesters were asked to act in a solemn manner, with no shouting, and no “shaming” of South Korea.

Currently, dogs in Korea are considered companion animals, yet they are also defined as livestock according to the Livestock Industry Act. Last Chance for Animals is trying to change the law so that dogs cannot be considered livestock.

For those seriously interested, Korean laws on DOG MEAT TRADE IN SOUTH KOREA: A REPORT ON THE CURRENT STATE OF THE TRADE AND EFFORTS TO ELIMINATE IT (2014) are described here by Lewis & Clark Law School. 

235,000 SIGN PLEA TO END CHINA’S YULIN DOG MEAT FESTIVAL 

On June 18, 2018, the Humane Society International (HSI) announced that Chinese and international animal campaigners in Beijing have submitted a letter with 235,000 signatures from the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and beyond, urging Lu Xinshe, Communist Party Secretary of Guangxi, to end to the annual Yulin dog meat festival at which thousands of dogs and cats are killed and eaten. 

Many of the animals are believed to be stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets, who endure being driven for days across China. The animals are crammed into wire cages before reaching the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death. 

"The annual Yulin festival has come to symbolize the cruelty of this abhorrent trade, and in a few days’ time thousands of dogs and cats, mostly stolen pets, will take their last terrified breaths in a Yulin slaughterhouse. I have witnessed the horror of that scene first hand, and it’s something I will never forget. This year is the Year of the Dog, and there’s no better opportunity to end the suffering,” says HSI's Adam Parascandola. 

LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCILMEMBER RYU SPEAKS OUT 

Councilmember David Ryu, the first Korean American and only second Asian American ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council, states, "I love animals of all kinds, which is why I worked to ban exotic animals for personal entertainment and join the community in protecting a wildlife corridor in Laurel Canyon… I oppose the consumption and sale of dog meat, and I am continuing to work with the Humane Society on this very issue."  

INDIA'S VERSION OF THE YULIN DOG MEAT FESTIVAL 

Following the end of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, Humane Society International (HSI) India released footage from one underground "dog meat death pit" in July 2016 showing animals being clubbed to death in front of each other. The dogs were stuffed into sacks with their muzzles bound while they were displayed in the market before they were killed, despite the practice being illegal throughout India.  

Activists have also launched a campaign to end India's brutal and illegal dog meat trade, which sees more than 30,000 stray and stolen animals beaten to death with clubs each year. 

"It was clear to me that many of the dogs were stolen pets still wearing their collars; but whether street or pet dogs, none of these animals should ever have to endure such cruelty," stated NG Jayasimha, HSI/India's managing director. 

"This further reiterates the need for India to have stronger animal protection laws because even this brutal clubbing of a dog would only cost the killer a Rs 50 fine." 

EATING DOGS - AND CATS 

It is legal to eat dogs in South Korea, China and many other countries. Cat meat can even be found on the menu in China, South Korea, Vietnam and even parts of South America, with millions eaten every year, according to ConsumerAffairs.com

Most dog meat is consumed in China, South Korea, Vietnam and Nigeria, according to Wikipedia, but it is still eaten or is legal to be eaten in other countries throughout the world. It was estimated in 2014 that worldwide, 25 million dogs are eaten each year by humans. 

Rosalyn Morrison, who lived in South Korea for two years and now works for Born Free USA, says, "According to the tradition, if you scare the dog before it dies it makes the meat more tender," she said. "Dogs are either hung, electrocuted, or beaten to death while cats are boiled alive. The inhumane treatment of animals for the sake of a cultural tradition can no longer be justified in civilized society." 

IN CANADA IT’S LEGAL TO KILL AND EAT YOUR PETS 

"Shock and outrage is spreading across Canada after news reports revealed that a B.C. couple butchered and ate a potbelly pig whom they adopted from the local SPCA," AnimalJustice.ca posted on February 23, 2018. 

"Molly, the potbelly pig, was rescued by the Cowichan & District branch of the BC SPCA as part of a cruelty investigation, and eventually regained her health thanks to their care. Molly was adopted by the couple in January, but less than a month later the couple killed and ate her, posting Snapchat photos and videos of them seasoning her flesh while preparing to consume her," the report states. 

It’s not illegal to kill and eat a companion animal. Rather, the law prohibits causing unnecessary suffering to animals, or killing them in a way that results in distress. 

Members of Parliament voted in 2016 to kill Bill C-246, which would have updated Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws and outlawed cat and dog meat, according to the report.  

DOG AND CAT MEAT IS LEGAL IN 43 STATES IN THE U.S.  

Commercial sale of dog and cat meat is illegal in the United States, but 43 states still have no prohibition on the killing of dogs and cats for human consumption. 

This means that, even though it is illegal for stores to sell dog or cat meat, an individual can kill and eat a dog or cat or sell the meat directly to another person, explains Animal Welfare Institute, which urges federal legislation to amend the Animal Welfare Act and prohibit the transportation, delivery, possession, and slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, and also ensure that stolen pets or stray animals aren’t killed for the meat-trade. 

For example: 

An undercover investigation for EnviroWatch highlighted the brutality of dog meat farms in Hawaii. The investigator ended up rescuing a dog from one dog meat farm where the dog was being sold for $150 dollars, with the additional cost of $35 for him to be slaughtered. (The dog became the investigator's pet.) 

In Wisconsin, Ervin Stebane, a dealer who had been licensed by the USDA to sell animals for use in laboratories, was also a dog butcher. Stebane stole dogs from residential communities, collected stray dogs, and took dogs who were “free to a good home,” then butchered them and sold the meat. With no federal law banning the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, Stebane was only convicted of “improperly killing animals.” 

The Pennsylvania Health Department closed a Philadelphia restaurant after learning it was serving cat meat. The restaurant had over 50 cats in chains in its basement and an employee was in the process of slaughtering a cat for human consumption when law enforcement officers from the Pennsylvania SPCA arrived. 

California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia are the only U.S. states that prohibit dog meat. It is illegal in all states for dogs to be commercially slaughtered and sold for meat. (Indian reservations are exempt from such restrictions.) 

The laws in states that have banned the consumption of dog meat differ. In some, dogs can be eaten, as long as the killing is done “humanely." 

California Penal Code Section 598b reads:   

Every person is guilty of a misdemeanor who possesses, imports into, or exports from, this state, sells, buys, gives away, or accepts any carcass or part of any carcass of any animal traditionally or commonly kept as a pet or companion with the intent of using or having another person use any part of that carcass for food. (This is vague. Many people now own rabbits, pigs and chickens as pets.) 

New York law states that it is illegal “to slaughter or butcher domesticated dog (canis familiaris) or domesticated cat (felis catus or domesticus) to create food, meat or meat products for human or animal consumption.” 

Virginia made it illegal to unnecessarily kill animals not associated with farming activities. (Dogs are not commonly used as livestock.) 

Georgia prohibits the sale of dog or cat meat for human consumption. 

Michigan law provides that horse and dog meat must be plainly labeled or it is a misdemeanor.  

IS THE U.S. CLOSE TO A BAN ON EATING DOGS AND CATS? 

"A provision banning the consumption of cat and dog meat was added to the Senate farm bill, which is now headed for a contentious battle. But, "While lawmakers negotiating a final farm bill agreement may end up fighting like cats and dogs, they will least agree no one should eat them," wrote Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner on June 30, 2018. 

Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) added the provision - -the same included in the farm bill approved by the House last week -- and it is expected to make it into law when the final farm bill is passed. The provision prohibits killing cats and dogs for food and it bans importation of cat and dog meat. 

“Cats and dogs are our companions, and we need to ensure they aren’t being killed for food,” Gillibrand, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, stated. “It is outrageous that this practice is not currently illegal in the United States.” 

This began with H.Res.30  (Introduced on 1/06/2017) to condemn the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, because it: (1) is a spectacle of extreme animal cruelty, (2) is a commercial activity not grounded in Chinese history, (3) is opposed by a majority of the Chinese people, and (4) threatens global public health; and it  affirmed the commitment of the United States to the protection of animals and to the progress of animal protection. 

Followed by:  H.R.1406 Introduced in House (03/07/2017) to amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption. 

"The Senate on Thursday easily passed its farm bill by a vote of 86-11," Politico reports, "clearing the way for a conference committee to reconcile differences with the House's version of the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation." 

California Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) was a strong supporter from the beginning. On April 19, he told the Miami Herald“You shouldn’t  be able to kill somebody’s pets and eat them...It’s about sending a message, not just in the country but worldwide, that we’re going to be one of those countries that protects our pets.”

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.