Taiwan Becomes The First Asian State To Ban Cat And Dog Meat

Taiwan has become the first Asian state to ban the sale and consumption of cat and dog meat. On Tuesday, government officials voted to add the amendment to the existing Animal Protection Act. In addition to prohibiting residents from selling or using cats and dogs for food, the amendment bans residents from attaching leashed animals to motorized vehicles.

In many countries, cats and dogs are considered pets and some people find the idea of selling or consuming their meat terribly disturbing. However, the sale or consumption of cat and dog meat is legal in numerous countries throughout the world -- including in the United States.

As there are no federal laws prohibiting the consumption of cat and dog meat in the United States, each state has the freedom to make their own laws. The sale and consumption of cat and dog meat are currently prohibited in a handful of states, including California, Georgia, Michigan, New York, and Virginia. As reported by Inhabitat.com, those states have identified cats and dogs as domesticated animals -- which are "commonly kept as a pet or companion."

Although a majority of states do not specifically ban the consumption of domesticated animals, the commercial sale of cat and dog meat is prohibited nationwide. Animal cruelty laws also prevent U. S. residents from causing undue harm to domesticated animals and livestock.

H.R. 1406, which was introduced in the House in March 2017, would add an amendment to the existing Animal Welfare Act prohibiting the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption nationwide.

As stated in the text of the bill, the so-called Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2017 would ban the possession, sale, and transport of cats and dogs for human consumption. Violators would face up to one year in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

Although the sale or consumption of cat and dog meat is permitted in several countries, including Switzerland and Mexico, Asian countries and states have received a majority of the publicity and criticism surrounding the practice.

China's annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, in particular, has drawn international attention and has become one of the most controversial celebrations in the world. During the 10-day festival, an estimated 15,000 cats and dogs are slaughtered and consumed each year.

As reported by Independent, the animals are often stored and killed in deplorable conditions. In many cases, the cats and dogs are "transported more than 1,000 miles to the location of the festival in cramped conditions." According to some witnesses, the animals "are either skinned alive or bludgeoned to death in public before being turned into meat and sold on the street."

Although China's Yulin Dog Meat Festival will likely continue, lawmakers in Taiwan have banned the sale of dog and cat meat. As reported by CNN, violators of the new law could face up to two years in prison and a $8,200 fine. In addition to the fine, they could face public criticism -- as their names and photographs could be published by media outlets.

In many countries, cat and dog meat are consumed our of necessity. However, in Asia, it is part of a long-standing tradition. In an interview with Consumer Affairs, Born Free USA employee Roselyn Morrison said she "spent many hours investigating the sale of dogs in South Korea for human consumption." Morrison acknowledges that dog meat is simply part of Korean tradition. However, she is specifically concerned with the inhumane treatment of the animals.

"According to the tradition, if you scare the dog before it dies it makes the meat more tender... Dogs are either hung, electrocuted, or beaten to death while cats are boiled alive."
Although people are particularly appalled with the slaughter and consumption of domesticated animals, others argue that killing any animal for food is inhumane. At this time, Taiwan will continue to use fish and livestock as a source of food. However, the state will no longer allow cat and dog meat to be sold or consumed.

[Featured Image by Vesek Rak/Shutterstock]