This is a big win for pets and pet owners in America. The question is, now, when will the rest of the world follow?
Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have come together to pass a bill that will ban the slaughter and killing of dogs and cats. House Resolution 6720, or the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018,” aims to make the act of slaughtering these animals for consumption a punishable crime in at least 44 states.
Currently, only six states in the United States have such a law protecting pets: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, and Virginia. Florida representatives Rep. Vern Buchanan (Republican) and Rep. Alcee Hasting (Democratic) sponsored the new bill that received hardly any objection from the rest of the representatives.
Native American Tribes Exempted
The bill also covers a ban on foreign or interstate trading and shipping of dogs and cats for the purpose of consuming these animals for food. If found guilty, the penalty carries a $5,000 fine.
However, the bill exempts Native American tribes from this rule should it become a law. Authors of the bill recognize that some tribes perform the slaughter as part of a religious tradition.
According to Buchanan's statement, dogs and cats fill the homes of millions of people with love and companionship. Thus, they don't deserve to be killed and sold as food. Hastings also said, on the other hand, that he was proud of this bill and of the representatives who supported it. He hopes that the move from the U.S. will also impact dog and cat meat trades in other countries.
Dog and Cat Meat Trade Outside the U.S.
While the resolution applies to the United States only, the representatives are hoping other governments outside of the U.S. will follow suit in a non-binding resolution. Currently, dog and cat meat trades are thriving in countries like China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam.
In some of these countries, dog meat festivals are observed and celebrated every year. Some celebrities in Hollywood have even come out to oppose these festivals publicly and begged officials to stop the dog meat trade, to no avail. Among these celebrities are Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell, Ricky Gervais, Helen Hunt, Pierce Brosnan, and others.
It's misleading to call Yulin a Dog Meat Festival. It should be called a Dog Torture Festival. Because that's what it is. #StopYuLin2015
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) June 21, 2015
— Ellen DeGeneres (@EllenDeGeneres) May 22, 2018
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) June 21, 2016
In 2017, Taiwan passed a law that finally outlawed such festivities and practices. It became the first Asian nation to do so.
The Animal Wellness Action welcomed the signing of House Bill 6720 and two other legislation that advances the Animal Welfare Act in the United States. According to Marty Irby, the director of Animal Wellness Action, at least 30 million dogs are slaughtered in the meat trade outside of America. It is considered the largest kind of exploitation against dogs.
How You Can Help End the Dog Meat Trade
You can help raise awareness about this issue by sharing stories about the dog meat trade and the efforts to help put a stop to it. Apart from becoming a loud voice on social media, which we know can help, you can also support animal activists who visit these countries to save the dogs.
Volunteers from the Human Society International (on Twitter @HSIGlobal) risk their lives to actually assist locals who support the end of the practice as well. These volunteers need resources to be effective saviors and take the dogs out of the country, so your donation will be highly appreciated.
When the dogs are saved, the volunteers also have to train these animals so that they can be re-homed in the United States and Canada. If you don't want to donate money, you can share your time to help the shelters that take in these dogs if they're near your area. Or, you can actually adopt a rescue from these shelters.