Chinese were among the first people to domesticate dogs and cats and keep them as pets. There are close to 130 million pet dogs in China— average one dog per 10 people. In spite of this eating and selling dog meat is a perfectly legal — thousands of year old tradition in China. Ancient Chinese writings from the Zhou Dynasty mention –pig, goat, and dog — among “three beasts” bred for food. Every year close to 10 Million with dogs skinned alive. Cat and dog meat also referred to as “fragrant meat” is openly sold in restaurants. Dog meat is believed to raise body temperature, boost overall health; promote warmth, blood circulation, and male fertility.
China is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of fur garments, mostly made from mink, fox, and raccoon dog. Shangcun about 100 kilometers south of Beijing is the nerve center of Chinese fur-pelt industry. More than 60 percent of the unprocessed fur is traded here on the streets and in open-air markets. China also boasts of the largest dog skins industries in the world. There are no restrictions on fur trade in China—farmers can breed or slaughter any animals as they feel fit. As a result, animals bleed to deaths for every year. Many of them are still alive and struggling when they are hang by their legs or tails for skinning them. In many cases, the animal has no option but to kick and writhe in pain. Some of them are still alive after they have been skinned.
2. South Korea:
In South Korea there are over 20,000 restaurants—offering dog meat. Apart from these, dog meat eating festivals are routinely held and up to 15,000 dogs and cats are consumed every day. The dog meat industry is estimated to be worth US$2 billion. In spite of this there is no clear law governing the dog meat trade. Dog meat farms are spread all over the countryside. Every year over 2.5 Million dogs and over 100,000 tons of dog meat are consumed annually. Dog meat consumption particularly increases during summer months because of the belief that eating dogs keep one cool.
Eating dog meat is not uncommon in the Philippines where half a million dogs get slaughtered annually. Dog meat is the third most popularly consumed meat after pork and goat. Asocena – a Filipino dish primarily consisting of dog meat. Aso is a Filipino word for dog and cena means dinner or evening meal. The city of Baguio, in the Island province of Benguet, is the hub of dog meat trade.
Fried cat meat and beer is a popular dish in Hanoi. The process starts with smashing the cat’s head with a hammer and drowning it before removing its fur. Similarly dogs are eaten in Vietnam which has a hundreds of years old tradition of worshipping stone statues of dogs because men want to be as strong and energetic as the dogs their ancestors used to worship. A 49-year old woman called Ly was arrested for cruelty to animals in Sham Shui Po after the meat of local stray dogs was found in her Vietnamese restaurant. She was arrested after Heung a local resident called the police after witnessing the butchering of a dog. The dog head’s eyes and teeth were sticking out. The police were reluctant to register a case and initially let off the suspect but when Heung posted his experience on Facebook, the police had to act. Dog meat is popular, relatively expensive, dinner time restaurant meal eaten throughout Vietnam which devours about five million animals a year. Dog meat is said to bring good fortune. There are many dog and cat meat restaurants and eateries all over Vietnam. But instead of writing Thit Cho (dog meat), or Thit Meo (cat meat) they have learnt to use the words ‘Thit Cay’ meaning ‘meat of small and medium-sized animals’ to avoid controversies. The economics of the trade is that 20 kilograms of dog meat can fetch around $100—just about the monthly salary of a Vietnamese worker.
Son Dong, in Thanh Hoa province, is the epicenter of Vietnam’s dog-meat industry. Thousands of dogs arrive here on their long and tortuous road to death. They are kept here for days and force-fed rice to increase their weight before being stuffed in cages and transported to slaughterhouses.
The dog meat and dog skin is a flourishing trade in Thailand. The town of Ta Rae in Thailand along the Mekong River is the hub for illicit dog stealing, smuggling, and trafficking. Dog thieves use makeshift stun guns connected to motorcycle batteries, to knock out pet dogs. The unconscious animal is then tied on the back of their motorbike and sold to traders for less than HK$100 each and land up in the hands of smugglers.
The Thai Smugglers then take the animals across the Mekong River to Laos, from where they are shipped to Vietnam by road in crowded, inhumane cages.
On the other hand the dog skin industry is centered in Sakon Nakhon in Northeast Thailand. An estimated 2,000 dogs are stolen and smuggled across the border every week to Vietnam and China to rake in the profits from the sale. Christmas is peak time for dog meat consumption in Vietnam which has the 5th largest dog-eating Roman Catholic population in Asia. Dog skins are used to make golf gloves and drums, besides being used as low-cost linings by the shoe-makers. The soft and flexible dog scrotums are highly prized for golf gloves. Dog skin is exported to Japan, China, and Taiwan for use in the musical instruments and sometimes end up in the form of rawhide bones for pet dogs to chew upon.
Laos is a dog trafficking hub between Thailand and Vietnam. It is among the 25th hungriest nation in the world out of the list of the 56 nations with the worst hunger situation. Almost every night thousands of stolen and stray dogs are caught and smuggled across the Mekong River from Thailand to Laos en route to Vietnam.
Dog meat is called “fragrant meat” in Taiwan. Dogs, especially black dogs are eaten in the winter months to retain body warmth. The Taiwanese parliament passed a law banning people from eating dog meat and imposed a fine of $300 for anyone found violating the law. The ban was introduced in 1988 to avoid adverse publicity during the Seoul Olympics. In spite of this dog meat is part of the menu in over 100 restaurants throughout Taiwan where the ban has not been effectively enforced.
A majority of the predominantly Muslim population of Indonesia consider eating dog or pork meat as unclean and haraam (forbidden by religion) but this does not prevent the Minahasa an ethnic Christian majority tribal community in Indonesia from traditionally eating dogs, cats, forest rats, and fruit bats. Same goes for the Toraja an ethnic mostly Christian people inhabiting the mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Even people belonging to the Batak Toba culture eat a dish called saksang made from dog meat stew. The Bataks of northern Sumatra considered dog meat to be a festive dish, reserved for celebrations like weddings and Christmas. Traditionally dog meat has been consumed by non-Muslims but not even Muslim have started eating dog meat in violation of their faith. A popular Indonesian dog meat dish is called rintek wu’uk rica-rica (dog meat).
There is a flourishing black market for stolen dogs in Bali. Dog catchers steal around 6-10 dogs every night and earn $2.50 per dog from the dog meat factories.
Dog meat is part of Polynesian and Hawaiian history. In the past meat of the Hawaiian poi dog was considered a delicacy reserved for consumption during feasts and religious festivals. It was only served to men and considered ‘kapu’ or forbidden for women. Traditionally dogs were supposed to be eaten only by the royalty and considered to be a food for the god’s. The French and English missionaries tried to stop the practice, but the Polynesians don’t seem inclined to give up. Today it is illegal to eat dog, but this doesn’t stop the Polynesian people from eating dogs. The whole trade goes on underground. Dog meat sells for around 5,000 Fcfp to cater to the demand from the local Polynesian and Chinese inhabitants.
Dog meat is legally sold at restaurants in Canada. It is not illegal to consume dog and cat meat in Canada. The slaughter of food animals is a licensed activity in Canada, which means operators must obtain a license. For a meat plant operator to get a license for dog meat, it must be proven that the dogs fit within the definition of food animals. Food animals are “mammal or bird raised in captivity–whose meat or meat or by-products were for human consumption.” So to obtain a license you have to prove that the dogs were raised explicitly for food and not keep as pets. You also need to slaughter the dog in front of federal inspectors, to ensure that the process was done hygienically. As a result, there are no licensed plants approved to slaughter dogs but there is a big unregulated and unhygienic, underground dog and cat meat market in Canada.
Dog meat is a booming business in Africa. Due to the big demand for dog meat, dogs are more expensive than goats and sheep of the same size in parts of Africa. For instance, a one-year-old dog may easily fetch GH¢25 as compared to goat or sheep of the same size for a little under GH¢10. Customers often queue to buy cooked dog meat.
Dogs are eaten for their medicinal powers in Nigeria. Tribes in southern Nigeria regard dog meat as the best meat. They believe that it boosts libido, cures malaria and is a good juju against evil spirits. Tallensi a tribe in northern Ghana consider dog meat to be a delicacy. The Frafra and Dagaaba — two Tribes in Ghana consume dog meat to strengthen the common bond between the two tribes. Every year members of the two tribes participate in common games. A Dog Head is given as trophy to the winning tribe.
A small percentage of Swiss population secretly eats cats, dogs, and horses. Eating cat and dog meat is part of Christmas celebrations. While there are no commercial slaughterhouses for cats and dogs, farmers kill the animals themselves. “Unmentionable Cuisine,” a 1979 book on taboo food around the world by Calvin Schwabe, detailed the Swiss recipe for dried dog meat. Swiss cantons of Appenzell and St. Gallen have a tradition of eating dog meat, preserving it as sausages, as well as using it for medicinal purposes.
13. Arctic and Antarctic:
Dogs are useful for transportation, navigation and survival food for people in Siberia, Alaska, and Greenland. Dogs are supposed to get a premonition about bad weather and can smell the thin ice. Still sled dogs were considered “meat on the hoof”. They are killed and eaten when food supplies dwindle. The weakest of the lot are eaten by other dogs in the pack. Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen had to eat sled dogs during his expedition to the South Pole.
A customer in the Mexican border town of Tijuana was horrified when he saw the kitchen staff of a restaurant killing a dog. But before they could serve the dog meat disguised as pork in the chow mien, the customer called the cops. The police officers in the raid found caged dogs in the kitchen, a decapitated puppy in the trash. The owner was caught red-handed putting dog meat in a cooking pot.
According to reports, many private houses throughout Mexico are being used as illegal dog slaughterhouses and dog meat is surreptitiously sold at taco stands and cantinas to unsuspecting customers.
Dogs were symbolically an important part of the Aztec mythology. It is said that dogs continued to serve their masters even after death and guided the deceased to reach Mictlan the place of the dead. Archeologists were surprised to find skeletons of a dozen dogs buried together in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan some 500 years ago.
What is even stranger is that the Aztecs ate dogs and raised the animals mostly for food.
Once believed to be guardians of temples and favorite pet of the royalty, the Burmese cat has all but vanished. In spite of an official ban, roadside restaurants serve ‘little tiger’ (cat meat) which is a favorite snack to be had with drinks in the evening. A lot of people eat cat meat that is a novelty. Unlike dog meat that is eaten throughout the month, people eat cat meat at the beginning of the lunar month. Cat meat which is said to be sweet and tender than a dog is extremely popular. The asking rate is between US$50 – $70 per cat depending on the size.
Though consumption of dog meat is considered taboo, exporting live-dogs to China is a highly-profitable business in Myanmar. The town of Pa-late near Mandalay is full of warehouses where the dogs are held captive before being trucked across the Mandalay-Muse border. An average-sized dog fetches between US$ 15 to $ 20.