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Tag: markets

Eating dog meat banned in Taiwan

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In a landmark piece of legislation, Taiwan has outlawed the consumption of dog and cat meat.

The island’s legislature yesterday passed an amendment to its animal protection laws, imposing longer prison sentences and stiffer fines for harming animals, and explicitly banning the slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs.

The island’s official Central News Agency (CNA) said the new law reflects the transition of Taiwan “from a society in which dog meat was regularly consumed” to one where “many people treat pet cats and dogs as valued members of their families.”

The amendment also bans “walking” pets on leashes pulled by cars and motorcycles.

The amendment comes after a series of animal abuse cases, and a strong push by animal lovers and the animal welfare movement.

Last year, a group of military personnel beat and strangled a dog and tossed its body into the ocean, an assault that was captured on video.

The amended act calls for fines between $1,640 to $8,200 for people who eat or sell dog meat, and up to $65,000 for deliberately harming an animal.

Violators of the new law may also see their names, photos and crimes publicized, Taiwan’s Central News Agency said.

Previously, the Animal Protection Act, passed in 2001, only covered the slaughter and sale of dog and cat meat, and not individual consumption.

The new law makes Taiwan the first Asian state to impose a full ban on both the marketing of dog meat and its consumption.

The amendment’s sponsor, Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min, said that while some localities already had measures banning dog and cat meat consumption, national legislation was needed, according to the China Post.

China has long been criticized for its annual dog meat festival in Yulin, where as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered and served as meals.

Opposition to the consumption of dog is growing in China, and in South Korea, where some are pushing the government to impose restrictions on the dog meat trade before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul.

Dog butchering to cease at Moran Market

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In what we hope is a death knell for the dog meat trade in South Korea, the killing and butchering of dogs has been banned in the country’s most infamous dog-meat market.

Sellers of dog meat in Seongnam’s Moran Market will shut down their dog slaughtering and butchering operations, starting within a week, the Korea Herald reported.

All cages and equipment used in the process must be permanently removed by the end of May.

The decision was announced Tuesday by Seongnam City Government and the vendors’ association of Moran Market, which represents the market’s 22 dog meat dealers, as well as those who sell vegetables and other products.

Quoting Gandhi, Seongnam mayor Lee Jae-myung, said, “Seongnam City will take the initiative to transform South Korea’s image since ‘the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.'”

Moran Market is South Korea’s top dog meat trade center. Dogs are kept packed in cages before being sold, killed and butchered to order in the open air market — about 80,000 of them a year, it is estimated.

The dogs generally come from dog farms, about 17,000 of which are located in South Korea.

According to the Humane Society International, about 2 million dogs are raised for their meat each year in South Korea.

No law specifically prohibits the farming of dogs for consumption as food.

“This is a hugely consequential development because of the sheer numbers of animals involved,” Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote on his blog, A Humane Nation.

“The closing of the Moran dog meat market affirms the soundness of our model of shutting down the farms by giving the farmers an alternative form of employment,” Pacelle wrote. “With the Winter Olympics planned for South Korea for 2018, this is a key leverage point for the global community… This proud and successful country can shed this industry and help transition farmers to other lucrative and more humane businesses.”

The Herald reports that the city of Seongnam will pick up the tab for market merchants to retool their shops for new kinds of businesses.

That’s similar to the approach Humane Society International is using to persuade dog farmers to forfeit their dogs and go into a new line of work.

dsc05635-2Since 2014, Humane Society International has transported 540 dogs rescued that way — my dog Jinjja among them — to the U.S. and Canada as part of an ongoing effort to end the dog meat trade in South Korea.

Jinjja came to me through the Watauga Humane Society. He was one of 31 Korean farm dogs HSI transported to the U.S. and sent to local humane societies in North Carolina.

I visited him there to write about the Korean dogs for this website, and ended up adopting him, mainly because we hit it off, but probably also because of the images that lingered (in my brain, and the photos I took) from my own visit, six years ago, to Moran Market.

Seongnam City is to be commended for doing what much of South Korea hasn’t been able to accomplish. Here’s hoping the new rule is enforced, that it spreads throughout the country, and that by the time the 2018 Olympics open in Seoul, the practice is not just hidden, but over.

(Photos: At top, a scene from Moran Market, by John Woestendiek; lower, my Korean farm dog, Jinjja, and me, by Ted Woestendiek)

Samsung doesn’t make a dog-skinning machine, Snopes.com reports

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True, some South Koreans still eat dog meat.

True, Samsung is a South Korean company.

But, no, Samsung does not sell and distribute a washing machine-like device with spikes in which dogs — sometimes alive — are spun to remove their fur.

Snopes.com has labeled the rumor false.

A call to boycott the South Korean multinational conglomerate — featuring a photo of the alleged device — has been widely shared over the Internet.

“The device pictured in the graphic is real, but the accompanying description of it is inaccurate,” says Snopes. “This device is not manufactured or sold by Samsung, and it was not used to skin a live dog.”

Snopes reported the photograph used in the graphic was taken by Swiss documentary photographer Didier Ruef in South Korea in 2002, who noted the device was being used to eliminate the fur from an already-dead dog.

The machine resembles a commercially available device that is used to de-feather slaughtered chickens, but it was more likely a homemade version, Snopes said.

samsung2The graphic bouncing around the Internet shows the machine, and falsely describes it this way:

“These machines are manufactured by Samsung to ripped (sic) the hair off dogs while they are still alive in the machine as it spins!

“Samsung supplies these machines to vendors and dog meat traders. Not only is Samsung actively helping the barbaric practice of dog eating to continue but are also contributing to the suffering of thousands of dogs that are being tortured and killed, by being boiled, blow torched or skinned alive, the most horrific brutal methods possible by the dog meat butchers.

“Samsung does not care! Their interest is only in profit.”

How Samsung came to be pinpointed in the campaign, and who is behind it, are both unclear.

There are petitions online that encourage boycotts of Samsung and LG products.

But those aren’t aimed at those company’s products — only at encouraging those companies to use their influence to help end the practice.

Having visited and been sickened and appalled by the open air markets in South Korea where live dogs are butchered and sold for their meat, I’m all for calls to end the practice, and all for well-aimed boycotts.

But such calls need to be culturally respectful, and they need to be based on truth — which is plenty horrible enough — not manufactured facts and made up scapegoats.

(Photos: Snopes.com)

When is a hoarder not a hoarder?

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If you were to pick up Jung Myoung Sook, her 200 dogs and her ramshackle hillside compound and plop them down in rural America, she’d be consider a hoarder for sure.

But in South Korea, where the dogs she’s caring for might well have otherwise ended up as meals in homes and restaurants, she’s really more of a saint.

Her neighbors don’t always feel that way, but I do.

Jung, who was featured on NBC Nightly News last week, has had to pack up and relocate seven times in the more than 25 years she has been rescuing dogs, due to complaints from those living nearby.

Jung picks ups strays living on the street, and she has also bought dogs that were headed to be sold for their meat.

The AP article said all the dogs in the compound appeared to be healthy.

While a small minority of South Koreans eat dog meat, dogs are raised on farms for that purpose, and can be bought, slaughtered and butchered at open-air markets.

While it has been six years since I visited one there, while researching “DOG, INC.,” my book on dog cloning, I haven’t been able to get those images out of my head since.

Seeing Jung’s smiling face, and reading of her work, helps some.

“My babies aren’t hungry. They can play and live freely here,” said Jung, 61. “Some people talk about me, saying, ‘Why is that beggar-like middle-aged woman smiling all the time,’ but I just focus on feeding my babies. I’m happy and healthy.”