Friday, 30 January 2015

Asian Dog Meat Trade

It is my sincere hope that, whilst this is a longer post than normal, you are able stick with it and read to the end. Sometimes a story is better told in a few words – but I couldn’t get all I needed to say out in a few paragraphs – the issues within are so important to me.

Actors Dame Judi Dench and Peter Egan have this week joined others urging MPs at Westminster to back a campaign to help the dogs of Asia and their plight. (the video is upsetting, I have chosen it though because it is not explicitly graphic - please do listen, if you can, to what Peter has to say.) 



I've been putting off writing about this because the subject of course makes me desperately sad, and during the research for Willow's adoption, I've had to witness some terrible things that none of us want to see. But as I sit here in my cosy little home in the South of England I wonder how I can do justice to this cause which is so close to my heart.

I don’t want my blog to be about sadness, it is after all, all about the joy of companion animals and the benefits they bring to our lives. But as I gaze at my beautiful dog from Thailand, my thoughts often go to what could have been her fate – and I have to get up and do something to take my mind off it, because the very thought of what could have been might send me mad. I have to write about this, as the subject is part of our story and if I didn't, I would be doing a disservice to all the dogs brutally tortured, the people who save them, those who campaign to raise awareness, and Willow herself.

I chose to adopt a dog that was linked with the Thai Dog Meat Trade and one of the ways I can do my bit to help the fight for these animals, is to make use of my social networks – tell the story, and hopefully reach people who might share the issues with their networks too.

Willow is beautiful, in every sense of the word. Whilst I've already documented her fears and ‘monsters’ – those are just a small part of the dog that she is. She is a kind and soft soul – there isn’t a vicious bone in her body, even in her most fearful states she has never ever reacted angrily. She is funny and playful, clumsy and silly and I can’t imagine her having to endure the fate of what millions of dogs just like her face every year in the part of the world she came from.

And this isn't about people eating dogs (however, until my last breath I will never comprehend how anyone could eat such a dedicated animal.) Whilst I am now a vegetarian, how can I condemn anyone who eats meat when I ate and enjoyed eating meat for many years? I don’t judge meat eaters, my Man eats meat, my dogs eat meat. This is not about the vegetarian debate, but about how these dogs are captured, kept and then tortured for their meat. It is the extreme cruelty that has to end.

This is what Judi Dench, Peter Egan and their colleagues are fighting for. Both actors are patrons of the International Wildlife Coalition Trust who work tirelessly to help animals at extreme risk. They work to educate the people perpetrating the cruelty and (amongst other valuable work for they do for animals) they are fighting to stamp out the dog meat trade in Asia.

An estimated 5 million dogs annually are captured and eventually eaten in Vietnam alone. 

Many of these dogs are taken from other countries such as Thailand, some are pets who have been stolen. They are stacked together in cages so tightly that some cannot breathe. Their limbs are pushed through the wires and often crushed as more crates are piled higher – there is no care, no one looking out for their welfare - they are given no food, no water and driven in these horrendous conditions to Vietnam, at least a full day’s journey, where, if they are still alive on arrival, they are skinned and boiled alive to eventually become a meal. In other places they are bred in farms and kept in pens too small for their needs without any care or love. They have no choice but to watch their pals being tortured and killed; waiting for their turn. These aren't isolated and rare cases of animal cruelty, and these examples are not the extent of it either. It’s happening right now throughout Asia as I type and whilst you’re reading, it is prolific and this torture has to stop.

Why do they kill these animals, that many of us cherish, in such abundance and so terribly?

Dog meat to some cultures is much the same as we view for example beef, lamb and chicken. It would not be right for me to comment on the act of eating dog meat when I have, in the past enjoyed eating beef and lamb too. The reason these animals are killed is simply because it’s the ‘norm’ for some cultures; just as it’s the ‘norm’ for our culture to eat Turkey at Christmas and Lamb at Easter.

The reason they are killed in such a barbaric way is much the same as when it was illegal in THIS country to sell bull meat that hadn't been baited – the archaic belief that the fear and pain an animal endures just before death releases hormones that tenderise their meat. Thankfully our laws changed over 150 years ago and the torment of bulls was outlawed. In short, these dogs are tortured because they believe it is a better eating experience for the consumer.

What can we do to help the fight against the dog meat trade in Asia

Most of us have some form of social media where we can share stories and help educate those who haven’t either been given the chance to learn or who keep their eyes and ears closed to the torture.

Support the campaign and interact with the International Wildlife Coalition’s twitter.

Like the Facebook pages of organisations such as the Soi Dog Foundation who are actively working with the Thai government to end the cruelty. 

Learn about rescues such as K9 Angels (who I adopted Willow through) and On the Wings of Love.

Take a look at Animals Asia and see the work they are undertaking.

Urge your MP to make this a political issue – you can write to your MP directly here

There is great power in collaboration; we can all do our bit to end suffering worldwide.

Ghandi  once said:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

I do not judge the people who eat dog meat for the reasons given above – however, I will always fight for the right of any living breathing thing to exist without fear and the infliction of cruelty. 

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2 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you wrote about it, and I'm very happy for Willow that you saved her. That barbaric practice is beyond my comprehension, although your point that it is simply the "norm" in those countries does help me to get a hint of understanding. Thank goodness that Willow is here with you!

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    Replies
    1. It's important not to demonise the culture isn't it - which I find is increasingly happening. The price on these dog's heads means people will continue to steal and snatch them from the streets. What we need to do is help educate and not hate (although when I see some of the things these people do - I find it so hard not to dislike a culture that can be so gruesome - but I do try desperately not to judge and I know many people, for example in Thailand are fighting the fight against it too. It's a difficult one - but - the fight against it is gaining momentum!

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