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September 13, 2016

South Korea’s cruel dog meat trade must end, say UK MPs & animal protection campaigners at Parliament debate

Celebs Dame Judi Dench, Peter Egan, Jilly Cooper sent letter to Boris Johnson urging Foreign Office action

Humane Society International/UK

  • HSI/UK campaigners with Lucy Watson and her dog Digby stand outside the Palace of Westminster following a Parliament debate on the South Korean dog meat trade on 13 September 2016. Wendy Higgins, HSI/UK

During a Westminster Hall debate this week, Britain's MPs called for an end to South Korea’s cruel factory farming of dogs for human consumption. Animal protection campaigners from Humane Society International/UK applauded Parliament for ‘giving a voice to the voiceless millions of dogs condemned to die for their meat.’

HSI is the leading global animal charity working in South Korea to expose the cruelty, having closed down five dog farms so far and rescuing more than 500 dogs as part of a long-term strategy to achieve a government-led phase-out of the industry.

Earlier today, Made in Chelsea’s Lucy Watson and her dog Digby joined HSI/UK campaigners dressed as dogs in a cage the same size as those used on many of South Korea’s dog meat farms. And actors Dame Judi Dench, Peter Egan and Jenny Seagrove, author Jilly Cooper, veterinarians Marc Abraham and Bruce Fogle, as well as dog behaviourist Victoria Stilwell, signed a letter organised by HSI urging Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to take decisive action.

During the debate, Oliver Dowden MP called for the UK government's constructive engagement with its South Korean counterparts to highlight concerns in a spirit of friendship and co-operation. Kerry McCarthy MP called on the UK to be a critical friend, noting that whilst South Korea is a very modern country, some of the 'old ways' persist such as the dog meat trade. She noted that there is no humane way to breed dogs for meat. Cross party MPs expressed sincere concern for this issue, and MPs from Scotland and Northern Ireland were particularly vocal.

Speak out against the cruel dog meat trade.

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI /UK, who attended the Parliament debate, welcomed the discussion: “South Korea's dog meat trade is as brutal as it is unnecessary, and Britain as world leaders in animal welfare could be instrumental in encouraging a government-led phase-out of the industry at a time when South Koreans are increasingly calling the practice into question. As many as three million dogs are bred each year in deprived conditions until they are killed by electrocution, hanging or beating. It’s a miserable life and painful death for a meat delicacy that is seldom eaten by most South Koreans.

“Britain prides itself as a nation of animal lovers, so we are pleased to see MPs sending a strong message of support for an end to this industry, giving a voice to the voiceless millions of dogs condemned to die for their meat. Humane Society International is leading the way with dog farm closures that demonstrate it’s possible to work co-operatively with the farmers to end what they themselves recognise is a dying trade, so now we need the South Korean government to step in. We welcome the Minister's commitment to address this issue and look forward to working with FCO officials and MPs to deliver the meaningful political actions pledged in the debate.”

Many MPs spoke of the need to approach the issue in a sensitive and cautious way to avoid a negative response. To this, HSI’s Claire Bass added: “When 'tradition' and 'culture' produce victims, it’s time for that tradition to change. That call for change, and for a new culture of compassion for animals, is being heard loudest from young Koreans who largely reject dog meat.”

HSI would like to see the UK government vigorously encourage legislative reforms, as well as offer insights from the successful government-orchestrated phase-out of fur farms in the UK that provides a template for reform that South Korea could follow.

A growing number of politicians and citizens in South Korea are speaking out against the dog meat trade, and amendments have been proposed to the country’s Animal Welfare Law that could significantly impact the trade. With 18 months to go until the world’s media is focused on South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, HSI hopes that a pledge can be secured from the South Korea government to act, and now is the time for Britain to add its support.

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

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