Local partnerships on the ground
Ending Asia’s dog meat trade for good poses complex challenges that require a genuine understanding of the situation on the ground and a multi-layered strategy. HSI’s primary focus is on the dog meat trade in China, South Korea and India, as well as—through our membership of the Asia Canine Protection Alliance and the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition—in Viet Nam and Indonesia.
In South Korea, India, Viet Nam and Indonesia, we have HSI team members living in-country. In China, we support the efforts more than 35 animal protection groups in campaigning, public education and hands-on rescue. In South Korea, we are working with local advocates on a broad agenda of reform and policy and legislative change.
In South Korea, we are urging the national government to commit to a phase-out of dog meat farming, and working with policy makers who are in favour of reform. In India, where the dog meat trade is already illegal, our HSI/India team aims to work with local law enforcement agencies to stop dog thieves and smugglers, and to see the ban better enforced. In China, has provided expert advice to Chinese animal groups to advance several legislative proposals for a dog meat trade ban, and hopes that the time will soon come when the National People’s Congress supports such proposals and advances robust animal welfare legislation. With bans on the dog meat trade already in place across Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore, achieving an end to the trade in other Asian countries is a realistic objective.
Additionally, HSI works co-operatively with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the United Kingdom to progress meaningful action, and has played a key role in helping to shape recent Congressional Resolutions in the United States.
Animal rescue: China
With as many as 30 million dogs a year suffering for the dog meat trade across Asia, it is simply impossible to rescue our way out of this cruel business, so that is why rescue is only one part of our strategy. In China, HSI helped to launch a team of activists called China Animal Protection Power, who liaise with local police to pull over trucks on the highways crammed with dogs and cats on their way to slaughterhouses. As these animals are largely illegally acquired from the streets and their homes, as well as illegally transported across provincial borders without the necessary paperwork, intercepted trucks can be seized by the police and the dogs confiscated. Many of the rescued dogs are sick or injured, so our supporters’ donations have helped bring them top-quality veterinary care and safe sanctuary so that they can recover and learn to trust again. We have provided expert training and support for shelters to ensure that they operate to the highest standards in China.
If you believe that dogs shouldn’t suffer and die for the trade in their meat, sign now to stand with us.
Animal rescue: South Korea
Across South Korea, as many as two million dogs suffer for months or even years being intensively bred on farms in small, metal, barren cages with little food or water, left exposed to the harsh elements. They receive no attention or veterinary care. Bred and raised for profit, they are eventually sold and slaughtered, usually by electrocution, for human consumption.
HSI is working with farmers who express an interest in leaving the cruel trade behind them to close down dog meat farms and fly the dogs to freedom in the USA, UK and Canada. Through a network of partner shelters, the dogs are prepared for adoption into loving homes. They serve as ambassadors to help raise awareness of this issue. Back in South Korea, we work with the farmers to help them move on, either by transitioning to new humane livelihoods such as water delivery or vegetable farming, or in the case of very elderly and infirm farmers, retiring from work. In both cases, permanently closing their dog meat farms saves not only the dogs we rescue at the time but also prevents many hundreds more from ever being born into the cruel trade in the future, while at the same time demonstrating to the Korean government that phasing out the industry is a feasible solution.
Stopping dog thieves
Criminal activity underpins the whole dog meat industry in most of the Asian countries where it exists, yet convictions are extremely rare. HSI wants to see improved law enforcement as a priority to deter dog thieves, protect vulnerable animals, and increase arrest and conviction rates for dog trade criminals.
China’s regulations require all animals taken across provincial borders to have individual health certificates, with which the dog traders rarely if ever comply. HSI is urging the authorities to routinely stop these dog traffickers, charge them heavy fines and confiscate the animals before releasing them to reputable shelters.
Stopping cross-border transport
The Asia Canine Protection Alliance, of which HSI is a founding member, seeks to end the illegal trade of dogs from Thailand, Cambodia and Laos into Viet Nam. Conservative estimates suggest that every year, more than 80,000 dogs continue to be smuggled in from these countries to help supply the demand for dog meat in Viet Nam. ACPA was successful in working with the governments to secure a five-year moratorium on cross-border transport of dogs for the trade in 2014, and focuses on strengthening enforcement of the ban and training of relevant officials, as well as raising public awareness of the ban and the health risks of the dog meat trade, especially rabies.
Yulin dog meat festival
Every June in Yulin, China, thousands of dogs and cats—including stolen pets—are slaughtered for the city’s annual dog meat festival, started in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging business. In recent years, thanks largely to the efforts of HSI and our partner groups, this event has become gradually more muted and small-scale. In the face of worldwide condemnation, officials have cracked down on public displays of slaughter and limited advertisement of dog meat by restaurants. But the killing still goes on in the backstreets and out-of-town slaughterhouses under the cover of darkness. For the past several years HSI has been a leading global voice to see an end to the suffering of animals in China’s year-round and country-wide dog meat trade, and together with our wonderful Chinese partner groups we have been able to assist with rescues of thousands of dogs from the brutal dog meat trade from across China, including at the Yulin festival.
In 2016, the Yulin government issued its first-ever written pledge to act to end the festival, and road checkpoints were set up to prevent dog trucks from entering the city. In 2017, just weeks ahead of the Yulin festival, the Yulin authorities alerted dog traders that restaurants, street vendors and market traders would be prohibited from selling dog meat effective one week prior to the event, with heavy fines. The announcement was subsequently corroborated by several Chinese animal groups by talking to traders who had received the notice. Subsequently, the Yulin authorities relaxed the prohibition under intense pressure from dog traders, moving instead to significantly restricting the amount of dog met that traders were allowed to sell. Despite our disappointment at the u-turn on the ban, it was a highly significant milestone in efforts to see an end to the Yulin dog meat festival as it demonstrated the authorities’ acknowledgement that action is needed.
HSI hopes that national and international campaigners can build on this momentum. Going forward, our Yulin campaign on the ground in China will be led entirely by our partner groups due to the new restrictions of China’s ‘Foreign NGO Law’ that came into effect on 1st January 2017 which places all China activities and funding of China activities by foreign NGOs under the scrutiny of the Chinese authorities. Read more.
In recognition of the repeated pleas by more than 80 Chinese animal protection groups in recent years, urging foreign groups to resist conducting large-scale purchasing of dogs during the festival days, which risks re-igniting the trade. HSI will not support activities that however unintentionally, breathe life into the dying industry of the dog meat trade.
Public awareness campaigning
Most Chinese people don’t eat dogs, and do support an end to the dog meat trade. In South Korea, too, there is dwindling interest in consumption, particularly among the younger generation. Greater awareness about the cruelty involved and the very real risks to human health from diseases such as cholera and rabies will eventually extinguish the industry. HSI supports Chinese groups in their efforts and works with our partners in South Korea on eye-catching, nationwide PR campaigns. Community outreach and highlighting the special nature of dogs as our companions are also part of our strategy to promote a public insistence for the end of the dog meat trade.
A promise to keep fighting
Here, HSI Director of Cruelty Response Adam Parascandola shares a quiet moment with a rescued South Korean dog just arrived at a U.S. shelter. We promise these animals and our advocates that we will not rest until the dog meat trade ends. Join us in our fight to stop this and other cruelty.