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In many parts of Asia – particularly in countries such as China, the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea – it is culturally acceptable to eat dog meat. These are not the only countries that eat dog meat around the world, dog meat is also eaten in Switzerland, Mexico and the Arctic and Antarctic, however most western cultures consider the practice “taboo”. In many Asian countries dogs have only relatively recently been kept as pets and so the animals are viewed very differently to the way they are viewed in the west[1]. However, several animal charities draw attention to the condition in which the dogs are often kept prior to being killed for human consumption. Some animal welfare charities argue that dogs are often tortured before being killed because of a belief that it causes their meat to be tender. There are also concerns that most of the ‘meat dogs’ are in fact stolen companion dogs and strays who are kept in terrible conditions while being transported from country to country.

A particular concern for many charities is Yulin Dog Meat Festival which is held in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, every year. News articles estimate 10,000 dogs are killed at the festival, having been inhumanely transported from other countries in tiny cages, often without food or water, before being beaten to death. There is a huge social media campaign to stop this festival, though its effectiveness has been questioned.

Although it is illegal to commercially slaughter and sell dog meat in many countries around the world, law enforcement is weak and it continues being a popular dish even where it is prohibited[2]. There are no international laws prohibiting the consumption of dog meat. The UK Government is not therefore able to intervene or take trade measures against countries where the consumption of dog meat is regarded as culturally acceptable. UK ambassadors and Foreign Office officials have, however, raised the issue with the governments of China, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam in the past. On Thursday 5th November 2015 MPs will take part in a debate on the dog meat trade. This debate, which was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following a bid from Robert Flello MP, aims to “put pressure on the countries that are involved in this appalling and barbaric trade to do something about it, and ideally to end it permanently[3].”

[1]     BBC Newsbeat, Why the UK doesn’t eat dog meat, but people in China do, June 22nd 2015

[2]     Voiceless Friends, Dog Meat Trade, accessed November 2nd 2015

[3]     House of Commons, Backbench business, uncorrected transcript, Representations taken before the Backbench Business Committee on Tuesday 20th October 2015

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