Friday, 3 July 2015

Press Release on the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, issued on behalf of SPCA Selangor

(Drafted and sent to the SPCA committee for their onward transmission to local newspapers yesterday.)  



SPCA Selangor joins the many rational and concerned voices worldwide in denouncing the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.

As fellow Asians, we object strongly to the assertion that consuming dog meat is an “Asian tradition.” It is a local, regional practice not born out of necessity, as it is not the impoverished who traditionally consume dog meat, but the wealthy who believe that consuming dog meat confers certain health benefits.  There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Conversely, research shows that sourcing, farming, transporting, slaughtering and consuming dog meat can contribute and has contributed to the spread of rabies, cholera and trichinellosis. Also, it is widely reported that the said dog meat eating festival only began in the 1990s and is thus not part of a long-standing regional cultural practice. Even if it were, it is averred that traditions must change and societies must evolve, especially when particular traditions involve cruelty. Societies all over the world are phasing out blood sports, factory farming, canned hunting, animal testing, the consumption of wildlife products and shark fin, and the production of veal and foie gras, as they understand that such practices are inhumane and becoming increasingly unpopular.

The practice of dog meat consumption in China and other Asian countries is also associated with the theft and kidnapping of dogs kept as companion animals. The kidnapping of companion dogs have no doubt caused great distress to their guardians and has become a source of conflict between dog meat consumers and animal lovers. The practice of consuming dog meat evokes strong adverse emotions because of the strong bond between dogs and humans. Dogs have evolved to live alongside humans and serve us as protectors, assistants, friends and family members. Surely man’s best friend deserves better treatment? Photographs of the festival show dogs being brutally tortured before slaughter, further reinforcing the assertion that there is gratuitous cruelty and violence involved in this grisly ‘festival’.

There are many, many sustainable food choices in China and eating dog meat is unnecessary, unhealthy and cruel. We believe the Chinese government and Yulin local authorities are capable of putting a stop to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and ending the consumption of dog meat in China. Change is coming to China, especially from the younger generation who see dogs as companions, not food. Dog meat consumption is no longer common in cities such as Beijing, and in 2011, the Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival was called off and finally banned following massive protests. We therefore urge the government of the People’s Republic of China to do the right thing and put an end to this festival and to dog meat consumption.

SPCA Selangor further urges Malaysians and members of the global community to play their part by:
(i)              Keeping their companion animals indoors and protecting them from harm;
(ii)            Spaying and neutering dogs, cats and other animal populations in order that no-one can use the excuse of population reduction to cull these animals;
(iii)          Avoiding businesses that sell wildlife products or serve exotic meat, including dogs, wildlife, foie gras and other animal products obtained through cruel means, and to report the sale of wildlife products to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) or the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) Wildlife Crime Hotline;
(iv)          Avoiding tourist attractions that involve cruelty to animals, for example, blood sports, bullfighting, visits to tiger and bear farms, circuses involving animal performers and dog meat festivals. We vote with our money every day and can end these practices by ending consumer demand;
(v)            Using the Yulin Dog Meat Eating Festival as a starting point to reflect on our own meat consumption patterns. Vegetarianism and veganism are growing worldwide for animal rights, welfare, health and environmental reasons. We can lobby for laws to protect the health, safety and well-being of farm animals, and patronise businesses that are humane and are developing better farming and animal husbandry practices, even if one is at present unable to give up meat entirely.

The international community is working to reduce meat consumption and the abuse and exploitation of animals, and SPCA Selangor unites with them in calling for a ban on the consumption of dog meat and ending cruelty to animals.

1 July 2015

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