“We have decided to shift the label of dogs from ‘livestock’ to ‘pets’ in congruence with people’s increased love and care for these animals. Dogs are globally regarded as pets, and it is discouraged to raise them as livestock.”Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China.
Dog and Cat Meat Ban
In Shenzhen, China, along with an ordinance prohibiting the sale of wild animals and the use of laboratory and exhibition animals, a dog and cat meat ban was legislated. Within a week of this legislation, a nationwide discussion on these issues was instigated through MOA’s official website.
Previously, Shenzhen launched surveys on the city website to garner public opinion about a dog and cat meat ban, which resulted in 83% in favor of, and 17% against.
Upon passing the ordinance, the fines were established as such:
- The customer of dog or cat meat will face a penalty of at least 5 times, and up to 30 times, the price of the purchased product. There will be additional fines for group purchases.
- Those illegally providing the product, service, or place for the transaction, will be fined at least 3 times, and up to 10 times, the earnings.
- Creating signage or a menu with the name, nickname, symbol, or design of the prohibited animal will result in a fine of at least 10,000 KRW (~8 USD) and up to 50,000 KRW (~40 USD).
- Additionally, breeding and selling wild animals protected under Chinese law for the purpose of consumption will lead to a punishment of at least 5 times, and up to 20 times, the profit.
- Breeding and selling other prohibited animals for consumption will result in a penalty of at least twice the earnings.
Upon violation of the ordinance, administrative punishment will be recorded in the public credit reporting system and processed via the pertinent ministry. Those who organize the crime will be subject to criminal liability.
Since April 8th, the Chinese press has been reporting on the MOA’s announcement, and commenting on the possibility of a nationwide dog and cat meat ban.
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. The outbreak has stirred up the Chinese public and the government and motivated them to make dog and cat meat illegal. In South Korea, however, the government and the National Assembly are still apathetic to the issue.
In 2018, two national petitions were submitted to the Blue House (the executive office and official residence of the Republic of Korea’s head of state.) One was to remove dogs from the list of approved livestock in the animal husbandry laws, and the other was to pass a law that prohibits the slaughter of dogs.
However, of the two petitions, the Blue House has been avoiding giving clear answers to prohibiting the slaughter of dogs, though it has enthusiastically promised to “review all regulations regarding animal husbandry laws that require modification to clearly redefine ‘livestock’ and exclude dogs from this list amidst the growing societal interest in animal welfare.”
Prior to the recent 2020 General Election, the Democratic Party of Korea gave an unenthusiastic response to policies for banning dog meat by stating that the removal of dogs from the list of approved livestock in the animal husbandry laws, and banning the slaughter of dogs “require further discussion.”
Democratic Party candidate Wanjoo Park of Cheonan City, who is also a member of the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans & Fisheries Committee, gave the following statement, which attracted much criticism from animal lovers and animal rights groups.
“We can designate certain dogs as livestock, and others as pets.”Wanjoo Park, Democratic Party, Korea
This led to the public’s angry request for an apology from the Democratic Party of Korea and removal of Mr. Park from candidacy, which was ignored. On the other hand, the six other South Korean political parties (United Future Party, People’s Party, Justice Party, Green Party Korea, Minjung Party, and Party for People’s Livelihoods) have all expressed their enthusiasm to establish policies banning the slaughter of dogs.
Indifferent to the dog and cat meat ban movement, the South Korean government and its ruling party still haven’t fulfilled their promise to the South Korean citizens to address the national petition regarding dog meat. What has started in Shenzhen, China, will potentially be enacted throughout all of China, at which point South Korea will still stand shamefully as one of the last remaining nations in Asia where dog meat is not prohibited, and the only nation in the world where dog farms and slaughterhouses operate freely.
As long as the South Korean government neglects to resolve this matter, its citizens and athletes will continue to be harassed with racist and stereotypical labels of “dog eaters” by the rest of the world.
Shenzhen in China, where animal rights laws are nonexistent, has managed to instigate a dog and cat meat ban, so why does South Korea still appear to drag its feet and be incapable of doing the same?
Featured image photo credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images.