I. Background and Introduction
For decades, most people in the United States and the Western World have treated dogs and cats as adorable household pets. Although the consumption of dog and cat meat is uncommon in America, there have been a number of cases found in US states such as Hawaii, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New York and in foreign countries such as South Korea, China, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam where they consider dog or cat meat as a regular house meal and sometimes even a specialty. According to one source reporting on South Korea’s dog meet culture:
“The meat has long been a part of South Korean cuisine, with about 1 million dogs believed to be eaten annually, but consumption has declined and the practice is now something of a taboo among younger generations amid increased pressure from activists” (The Guardian).
There have, undoubtingly, been efforts by the government to act on this issue as activists claim that the act of killing and eating dogs is too brutal. However, dogs are an important source of nutrition for many groups of people. According to the economist, “hunters got about 10 yuan ($1.30) for a kilogram of meat, so a medium-sized dog might be worth 70-80 yuan” while “The average price of a pound of pork at retail was $3.753 per pound in March, up 1.3 cents from February, but down 2.7 cents” (National Hog Farmer) While the difference is relatively littler (approximately 30 more cents per pound), these differences add up for low income farming families situated across Asia’s farmlands. Hence, as a result, there is a clear lack of bans in countries such as South Korea as governments hesitate to ban an important food source for many of its citizens.
“Dog meat consumption is a grey area in South Korean law. Despite no specific ban, authorities have invoked hygiene regulations or animal protection laws that ban cruel slaughter methods to crack down on dog farms” (The Guardian).
While this has been the historical case and the continuing trend in most of Asia, the United States have adopted a law that prevents the consumption of these animals.
II. Legislature Overview
The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act is a law that was passed in the US in 2018. This law, also referred to as DCMTPA, penalizes the commercial slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, with fines of up to $5,000. DCMTPA was first introduced in March 2017 by Congressman Alcee Hastings and has lobbied animal rescue organizations like the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation (AHWF). Directly, in the Dog and cat meat trade prohibition act of 2018, it is stated the following:
“(a) In General.—Except as provided in subsection (c), no person may— (1) knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption; or (2) knowingly ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell, or donate— (A) a dog or cat to be slaughtered for human consumption; or (B) a dog or cat part for human consumption. Exception For Indian Tribes.—The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply to an Indian (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304)) carrying out any activity described in subsection (a) for the purpose of a religious ceremony. Penalty: Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be subject to a fine in an amount not greater than $5,000 for each violation. Passed the House of Representatives September 12, 2018.”
This enactment clearly states the fact that there is not to be any slaughtering or consumption of dogs or cats. This is added on by specifications for certain groups. As dog-eating may or may not be part of Native American culture, the legal enactment excludes them to prevent cultural clashes. However, for all else in the United States, those who violate this law are subjected to a penalty that goes up to five thousand dollars. The future of this legislation as well as its impact is not clear yet and is still up for debate. However, as evidently seen in the findings of this paper, there are benefits and negatives to both sides that must be put into consideration when making a final decision.
16, Ron Plain | Apr. “Hog Prices Turn the Corner to Head Higher.” National Hog Farmer, 28 Dec. 2018, www.nationalhogfarmer.com/marketing/hog-prices-turn-corner-head-higher.
says, Mari, and The Plant Way. “Why We Should Legalize the Sale & Consumption of Dog Meat.” ThePlantWay.com, 18 Feb. 2020, www.theplantway.com/legalize-dog-meat/.
Buchanan, Vern. “Text - H.R.6720 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018.” Congress.gov, 17 Sept. 2018, www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6720/text.