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Can eating dogs be done humanely?

Given that millions of dogs are euthanized every year, it's a question worth asking.
Dog meat 2011 06 28Enlarge
An animal lover consoles a dog after a convoy of trucks carrying some 500 dogs to be sold as meat was stopped on a highway in Beijing on April 17, 2011. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, a canceled dog meat festival in South Korea prompted this Rice Bowl blogger to ask: What's really wrong with eating dog?

A few things, turns out.

At least according to GlobalPost readers, many of whom are also animal rights activists.

Animals Asia Foundation, an animal welfare group based in Asia, also chimed in via email with a response.

In comments attributed to founder and CEO Dr. Jill Robinson, the group focused on how cruelly dogs are treated before they are slaughtered, as well as how inhumanely the slaughter itself is carried out.

Here is what Dr. Robinson had to say:

(1) Dogs are carnivores and are inherently different in temperament to most domestic livestock species that are more commonly raised for food. As pack animals, hierarchy is important. The dogs are crammed into cages to be transported to the markets, which leads to aggression and fighting. Equipped with efficient canine teeth — carnivore attacking carnivore — they are seen tearing into each other, inflicting horrific wounds.

(2) In many cases, dogs are bludgeoned to death slowly. They are given a blow across the muzzle, using an instrument resembling a baseball bat. The blow is not hard enough to render the animals unconscious for long — they regain consciousness within seconds, and try to get up, sliding around in the blood and crashing into other dogs also flailing around. At this point they are howling pitifully in pain and confusion, with blood and mucus pouring from their nose and mouth — only to be bludgeoned again and again.

There is no defense for the cruelty to animals, in my opinion. Everything outlined above I find abhorrent.

But, to me, these arguments fail to address the crux of the issue.

(GlobalPost in Thailand: An in-depth look at the Dog Meat Mafia)

The question is not what is wrong with beating the bejesus out of a dog. I wouldn't condone that sort of behavior as it related to any senient being, be it a dog or a goldfish or a person. The question is what is wrong with eating the meat of dog.

Assuming the slaughter of an animal is something that it is possible to do humanely, what is wrong with eating the meat after it is done?

So, I suppose there is a new question: Can the slaughtering of dogs be done humanely?

It is possible that by legalizing and regulating the dog meat industry, we could put an end to the cramming of dogs in cages and the bludgeoning of dogs to death.

This may be an unrealistic expectation to put on China, a deadly trainwreck this past weekend has been so disastrously mismanaged, calling attention to the country's failure to regulation key sectors.

(More from Rice Bowl: China's latest craze involves dyeing pets to look like other wild animals)

But what about South Korea, where dog meat is also on the menu? Is this a reasonable goal, or one that simply allows the systems described above to continue under wraps?

I'm not sure what the answer is, but given that millions of dogs are euthanized every year, it is worth talking about.

As Jonathan Safran Foer pointed out in the Wall Street Journal:

The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.

Given that we put an end to the lives of so many dogs every year, doesn't it make sense to put those lives to good use?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/dog-meat-animal-rights-china-south-korea

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