In a legislative move to begin stopping the worldwide slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, the United States House of Representatives took a voice vote on The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018. In the United States it imposes a fine of $5,000 per violation for killing dogs or cats for human consumption. Globally, it urges Asian countries such as China and Korea to end the practice, saying that compassionate nations should act in a humane manner. This extends to the trading and selling of dog and cat meat internationally.
Though there are significant differences in the counts, America euthanizes between 1.5 and 2.7 million dogs and cats each year that have been kept in shelters. This means the number is probably higher since shelters are not the only places where cats and dogs are killed. While the animals are not killed for the purposes of food, other countries may see this as a more than hypocritical given that the dogs and cats killed in their country for food to feed people serves a moral purpose.
Florida Representatives Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Alcee Hastings, a Democrat, sponsored the bill. Both Representatives also were responsible for co-sponsoring a Florida state bill that would deal with the issue of the effect of red tide algae overgrowth in the state. Both are involved in running for re-election in the upcoming midterms.
This raises the question of what prompted the new Dog and Cat Prohibition Act. It clearly is non-binding on any individual representative since it was a voice vote, while at the same time racking up a “win” for both Buchanan and Hastings in their fight for the environment and animal rights. Another name, Claudia Tenney, chimed in on the law, saying that such a law reflects America’s values. Tenney, like Buchanan and Hastings, is up for re-election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District.
Will this be another law on the books that will go largely ignored in a few years because it cannot be said to have been taken seriously by any member of the House? While it has been reported that the bill has the support of 236 other Representatives, it went nowhere until just this month. In regards to the effect it will have on other countries, it is likely to be minimal at best. Unfortunately there are millions of dog and cat lovers who take this matter very seriously, and hope that at least in America, these types of laws would be given the attention they deserve.
Here is the first problem with the new law. While the United States can determine what its moral values are, it cannot dictate American morality to other countries. When you consider that the United States has roughly 340 million people to feed, and China and India have 3 and 4 times as many people to feed with fewer resources, the law seems out of touch with the cultural and population realities of other countries.
Second, if the proposed solution to replace the dog and cat food eaten with something else, what will that something else be? Countries like China and India who have large populations to feed will have to get that food from somewhere – meaning they will have to pay to import the food. This exacts an economic price in order to begin meeting the requirements of the new law, a price that the United States will not have to bear. In fact, as one of the world’s largest food producers, it is very likely to economically benefit from the proposed change in diet.
Here are some little known facts about the killing and consumption of dogs and cats in the United States.
- There are 7 states that actually have laws on the books for outlawing dog meat: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
- Farmers may eat dog meat but cannot sell it commercially.
- Indian reservations are exempt from any restrictions since they are not subject to the laws of the State.
- Farmers have maintained that there is no such need for a law since the actual practice of Americans eating dog meat is so rare it is inconsequential.
- The House Committee that rules on such matters is Agriculture.