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House of Commons Hansard
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Dog Meat (Consumption) (Offences)
19 February 2019
Volume 654

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

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I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make it an offence to consume dog meat and to transport, possess or donate dog meat for the purpose of consumption; and for connected purposes.

Tragically, around the world, 30 million dogs a year are eaten, and more than 10 million of them are killed in China alone. In the Republic of Korea, dog meat is the fourth most consumed meat after pork, beef and chicken. More than 450 tonnes of dog meat were imported to Japan between 1997 and 2017. The dog slaughter industry is worth between $220 million and $273 million.

Eating dog meat has long-standing cultural significance in many east Asian countries, where many consumers believe it to have medicinal value and to bring good fortune, yet none of the alleged health benefits has any scientific basis. Instead, eating dog meat fuels an unspeakably cruel trade involving animal torture.

It may seem extraordinary, but consuming dog meat is currently not illegal in the UK. Luckily, there is no evidence that dogs are eaten in the UK yet, but due to the vile way in which dogs are treated in China, I would like our country to join in setting an example to the world. China argues that, until we make it illegal, why should they?

Two months ago, a ban on the human consumption of dog meat was passed in the United States, following Germany, Austria, South Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. This Bill is an opportunity for the UK Government to join those countries in introducing a ban, which is particularly important as the conditions under which dogs are farmed, transported and slaughtered are deliberately cruel. It is believed that inflicting suffering raises an animal’s adrenaline levels, tenderising its meat and adding medicinal properties.

This Bill, therefore, is not just about consuming dogs but about the extra suffering and cruelty involved. Humane Society International, the animal protection organisation, has reported the appalling conditions to which dogs are subjected. Usually forced into tiny cages, many dogs suffer broken limbs as they are transported vast distances, often without food or water. Poor sanitation, parasite infestations and disease outbreaks spread quickly in crowded conditions.

A 2007 study by Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology found that two in 10 sick dogs in Hanoi slaughterhouses were rabid. Some dogs are force-fed with a tube down their throat to boost their weight before slaughter. Nearly half the dogs die before reaching their final destination. Injured, dehydrated and exhausted, the dogs that are still alive face unspeakably cruel deaths. Routine methods of slaughter include bludgeoning, hanging, boiling, skinning and blow-torching alive. The dogs are then consumed.

The city of Yulin in China hosts an annual dog meat festival that is infamous for its inhumane slaughtering methods, which are practised at over 100 slaughter sites around the city, including crowded markets, in the streets and outside schools. The dogs, some of which are puppies, are tortured and killed in front of each other. During the 10-day festival, 2,000 to 5,000 dogs are killed each day. Over 230 tonnes of dog meat are consumed each year at that festival alone. I hope the House would agree that the sheer scale, as well as the unnecessary cruelty, is truly shocking.

In the UK, we spend £10 billion a year on our 8.9 million pet dogs. They provide companionship and love and, for many people, they are part of the family. Dogs are used by the police, our armed forces, in therapy and, of course, as guide dogs. Our laws usually reflect the respect that dogs deserve, and this Bill fits with our long and proud tradition of support for and insistence on the highest standards of animal welfare. As a nation of dog lovers and champions of animal protection, the UK must enact a ban on trading and consuming dog meat.

If the animal cruelty were not bad enough, the human suffering cannot go unnoticed. In China, an estimated 70% of dogs slaughtered for consumption are stolen pets. Anybody whose pet has gone missing knows the worry and fear for the future of their loved pet, the anguish and concern over what has happened, or simply having to wonder, “Where is my dog?” At least in the UK we know our missing dogs will not be eaten.

In China, dog-snatching gangs are hired by butchers to supply cheap animals. Increasingly bold, these gangs are often armed with machetes and Tasers. The dog meat trade normalises violence and fuels both animal and human abuse. For the sake of the tortured animals, the victims of crime and the exploited workers, it is vital that the UK takes steps to end this cruel industry.

In 2015, the World Dog Alliance organised a petition to urge the South Korean Government to act, and it received more than 100,000 signatures from UK citizens. In response, the South Korean Government closed the nation’s biggest dog meat market ahead of the 2018 winter Olympics. Fortunately, many countries recognise the value of contributing to this global effort, with the United States being the latest to introduce a ban. That ban was passed two months ago, even though, like here, dog meat consumption is not a problem in America. Last week, a group of US Congressmen and former Representative Jeff Denham wrote directly to our Prime Minister urging the Government to introduce a ban, emphasising the need for an international condemnation of dog meat consumption.

I am proud to have campaigned for tougher sentences for animal cruelty, and I am proud that the mistreatment of animals in the UK, and across the globe, has always been an important concern of our Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Clacton (Giles Watling) has tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would enable the House to support the ban on consuming pets. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) will introduce a Westminster Hall debate on this topic on Thursday.

It is helpful that this issue has support from MPs on both sides of the House, and it is certainly an issue that my constituents, and the wider population, care deeply about. I am sure that anyone who takes animal welfare seriously would join my colleagues and me in condemning the vile torture and slaughter of dogs. Making it an offence to consume dog meat, or to transport, possess or donate dog meat for the purpose of consumption, would highlight our country’s commitment to outlawing the practice globally and would cement the UK as a champion of animal welfare.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Giles Watling, Andrew Rosindell, Dame Cheryl Gillan, Sir David Amess, Scott Mann, Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, Daniel Kawczynski, Sir Henry Bellingham, Damien Moore, Royston Smith, Tracey Crouch and Bill Wiggin present the Bill.

Bill Wiggin accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 22 March, and to be printed (Bill 337).