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The Humane Society International estimates nearly 30 million dogs are killed just across Asia every year for human consumption – a number out of the realm of many people’s imaginations.
Where in the world are dogs considered man’s best friend, and where are they sometimes served as restaurant meals? Dateline looks into the laws surrounding the slaughter and consumption of canines around the globe.
In Australia, it is not explicitly illegal to eat dog in most states and territories. However, the sale of cat and dog meat is prohibited in all states and territories under the various statutes which govern the production of meat.
South Australia is the only state which has definitively prohibited the slaughter and consumption of both cats and dogs.
Somewhere in Asia, a dog is slaughtered every second.
In China, more than a third of the population eats dog meat multiple times a year. Reasons for the consumption of dog meat are deeply rooted in tradition, and sometimes superstition – some believe it is a health tonic, while for others dog meat is just like any other meat. Notably, dog meat is also consumed in Vietnam, South Korea, and the Philippines.
The idea of eating dog is alarming to most countries in the West, where dogs are considered "man’s best friend". In a 2012 investigation into the practice, Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger uncovered the practice in rural regions of central and eastern Switzerland. Animal rights campaigners rallied to get the practice outlawed in 2015.
In rural Poland, dog fat has been known to be used for lard – in 2009, a man who admitted to slaughtering a dog to create lard was tried by the Krakow District court – and found not guilty.
In the UK? If you humanely kill a dog you own, it’s legal to eat it.
According to animal rights NGOs, there are about 20 countries that consume dog meat in Africa – with Nigeria being the largest consumer of the animal on the continent. Dog meat is often marketed as a cure for malaria, and as a repellant against witchcraft. Live dog sacrifices are often made during a three day festival in the country in honour of the mythical warrior Ogun.
Although few cases of dog meat consumption have been reported in the U.S, it is still legal to eat dog meat in 44 states. Currently, the U.S House of Representatives is reviewing legislation that would explicitly outlaw the slaughter of dogs and cats for food.
The consumption of dog meat is also legal in Canada, however any restaurant wanting to serve the meat has to source it from a licensed meat plant operator – and there are no licensed meat plants that slaughter dogs in Canada.