While in some countries such as China, the eating of dogs and cats has been banned as part of a wider clampdown on the wildlife trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, sadly in neighbouring Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, dog and cat meat consumption is actually on the rise.
Despite the global pandemic FOUR PAWS has documented the continued sale of dog and cat meat in the region, pivoting from a ‘dine-in’ model to a ‘to-go’ service, and the advertisement of dog and cat meat dishes on a smartphone food delivery app.
You may be wondering why the demand for the dog and cat meat continues to rise during a pandemic. It is because many people believe that, ‘dog meat is good for health and helps ward off cold or viral illness, like COVID-19’. Others prefer to eat dog meat because it is perceived to be ‘natural, without chemicals, and safe to eat’.
The reality, however, is that dog meat is far from safe, and is linked to outbreaks of cholera, and cases of trichinella and rabies. In addition, the animals are often sold at live animal markets across Southeast Asia – the place of origin of the novel coronavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 70 per cent of global disease-causing pathogens discovered in the past 50 years came from animals, and COVID-19 is no different. Despite the public health risk such animal trades present, many dog and cat meat restaurant owners report that business has actually increased during the pandemic.
With more than 110 dog meat restaurants around Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, many opening less than two years ago, the service model has adapted to the current social and economic situation posed by the COVID-19 outbreak by transitioning their business model from serving customers inside restaurants to providing take-away service. This is one example which I really am disappointed with.
Just as in the UK we get our food delivered/to pick up or part cook at home, in Cambodia vendors are seen wearing masks standing on the side of the road, providing bags of dog meat to customers to eat or prepare in their homes. In Vietnam, a similar trend has been observed particularly in the north of country, where dog and cat meat consumption has a longstanding history.
However, the newest development allowing dog meat restaurants to adapt to the current COVID-19 situation includes the use of delivery apps such as now.vn – one of Vietnam’s most popular delivery services founded by restaurant review platform Foody. Dog and cat meat restaurants across the country are advertising dog and cat meat dishes for delivery on the Foody website and app.
In order to put a sustainable end to the brutal dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, FOUR PAWS has launched a campaign on an international and national level. Through educational work and cooperation with the responsible authorities and tourism associations, the goal is to get governments in Southeast Asia to introduce animal protection laws which bring an end to the capture, slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats. Furthermore, FOUR PAWS supports local animal welfare organisations and communities with humane and sustainable stray animal care programmes. FOUR PAWS is also part of the animal welfare coalitions DMFI (Dog Meat Free Indonesia) and ACPA (Asia Canine Protection Alliance), which lobby against the trade in Southeast Asia.
“Shenzhen has taken a positive step for its people and animals in banning the consumption of dogs and cats. We encourage Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia to take similar steps to make sure that their dog and cat meat trade is not a source for further disease, as part of safeguarding their own people and the wider global community,”
Dr Karanvir Kukreja, Project Manager for FOUR PAWS “Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade in Southeast Asia” project.
How can you help?
Please sign this petition against the dog and cat meat trade, which has already been signed by over 640,000 supporters worldwide since it launched late last year. In addition please share it widely so that FOUR PAWS can get as many signatures as possible!