Dog Meat Market 2007
12 April 2007
European Parliament Committee update
A comprehensive EU-wide ban on trade in cat and dog fur was approved by the European Parliament Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection on April 12. The committee scrapped a proposed exception that would allow trade in fur from cats and dogs “not bred or killed for fur production,” the parliament’s news service reported.
As Committee Chairwoman Arlene McCarthy of the United Kingdom said, “We want a ban, not a restriction.” In December 2003, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to draft a regulation banning the import, export, sale and production of cat and dog fur and skins.
Three years later – after a public outcry over evidence that cat and dog fur products were still entering the EU, despite a voluntary code of conduct adopted by European fur traders – the Parliament got its wish.
“The placing on the market and the import to or export from the Community of fur of cats and dogs and products containing such fur shall be prohibited”, stipulates Article 1 of the draft regulation proposed by the Commission. The Committee backed the thrust of this article by a large majority, with just a minor adjustment of the wording.
What they did not back, however, was the Commission’s proposed exception from the ban. As drafted, this exception would open up the possibility for the placing of cat and dog fur on the EU market provided that the fur (or products containing it) would be (a) “labelled as originating from cats or dogs that have not been bred or killed for fur production”, or (b) constitute “personal or household effects” introduced into, or exported from, the Community.
Rapporteur Eva-Britt Svensson of Sweden was adamant about doing away with the exception. If it stayed, it “would provide a gaping loophole, which would be ruthlessly exploited by traders of all future consignments of cat and dog fur, thus rendering the entire regulation useless,” she said. “I have not yet heard any serious arguments for exceptions or derogations,” Svensson said.
She said the background to the ban was reports about cruelty in the production of such furs and a strong public reaction with hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions to end the practice.
She characterised the practice as “cruel and extremely sickening,” and said the killing methods of many cat and dog slaughter houses involved prolonged suffering by strangulation with animals often being skinned while still alive. The fur is then used in toys, shoes and clothing without any labelling.
“There is no justification for the repulsive treatment of cats and dogs,” Svensson said. “This industry is built on torturing animals and such furs can be replaced by other materials. The wearing of animal fur for mere aesthetic purposes is disgusting. I therefore want to see the ban on cat and dog fur as a first step towards additional measures against the trading in other skins and furs, for example for seal skins.”
MEP Simon Coveney of Ireland said, “In excess of two million cats and dogs are slaughtered in China each year. The animals are kept in extremely cruel conditions before being skinned alive or being stabbed or strangled solely for their fur. The fur is often dyed and is fraudulently labelled to trick the consumer into believing it is faux fur or even mink.
Back in barbaric business – the caged cats of China
by TOM SCOTT and RICHARD JONES of The Daily Mail
The haunting sound of animal wailing fills the air.
Dogs are crammed so tightly together into tiny metal cages they cannot even bark. Yards away the blood-spattered carcasses of others lie on the ground.
This is Three Birds’ Market in Guangzhou, China, officially described as a poultry market.
But, as these exclusive pictures show, many traders on the 60-acre site are doing brisk business selling dogs and cats to restaurants for slaughter and human consumption.
It is replacement for the Xinyuan animal market in the same city, closed down last year after international outrage over its treatment of animals and a possible link to the SARS virus.
But the brutality has not gone away. The new £33 million market opened at the end of last year and so far 900 businesses are renting space.
Cages of dogs and cats – some of them bred as domestic pets – are piled high and when an animal is chosen for sale it is bludgeoned with an iron bar until it is close to death before, being handed over to the purchaser.
“The customers want fresh ‘live’ meat,” said Huang Lu Sheng, one of the stallholders.
“When the dog dies slowly there is much more flavour in the meat. Some customers want the dog half-dead.
“Then the taste is very strong and they can prove to their customers that the meat is really fresh.
“I do not care about the dog suffering. It is only to eat and the customer is the one that chooses how it should die.
“But most customers actually want the dog beaten to death and put in a plastic bag. It’s easier to carry like that.”
A teenager we saw holding a hollow metal pole was an expert in “not quite killing” the animals, we were told.
As his colleague held the dog’s neck with long metal calipers to prevent them moving, the young man struck each dog with the pole several times on the skull. Each swing of the metal bar resulted in a dull thump and a desperate whimper from the poor animal.
The unconscious dogs, with blood dripping from their head wounds and mouths, were dumped outside the cage. Next they were bound with metal wire and strapped onto a motorbike or thrown into the back of a lorry.
Sheng went on to explain that butchered meat is also sold, with the dogs killed before being dipped in boiling water to remove their fur.
His stall is one of at least 30 at the market that specialise in dogs – although he would not discuss prices.
He sells around 500 a month but, having only been trading for two months, he expects business to increase as more customers hear about the new market.
Even in the absence of any animal rights legislation, Three Birds’ owners are wary of plying their gruesome trade too openly, and advertising for the market refers only to poultry.
At the entrance, there are cages full of ducks, geese, chicken and wildfowl. But further inside, away from the public, are the stalls trading in cats and dogs.
The cats sell for around £1 per kilo wholesale. Weighed by the dozen on large scales, they end up in restaurants, where they are sold for around £1.65 per kilo to the public.
Restaurant owners and middlemen buy them by the sack-load to use in tiger, phoenix and dragon soup – a delicacy actually consisting of cat, chicken and snake.
Sadly there were many children in the market witnessing the cruelty.
Zhang Xiao Mei, the 12-year-old daughter of a cat and dog stallholder, said: “I do not want to see this. I hate it when I see my father killing these animals.
“I have nightmares about getting chased by dogs that have blood all over their tongues.
Around 10 million dogs are slaughtered for food annually in China where dog meat is said to increase the positive energy of one’s body (the yang) and improve circulation.
Cat meat is also considered to be warming, with the stomach, intestines and thighs consumed for their perceived benefits and the rest of the animal thrown away.
The Three Birds’ Market proves that despite China’s bid to clean up its act before the Beijing Olympics next year, on the issue of animal cruelty it still has a long way to go.