In many parts of Asia – particularly China, the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea – it is culturally acceptable to eat dog meat.
Dogs used for meat are often kept in terrible conditions and I share constituents’ concern about the barbaric nature of this trade and the inhumane way in which so many innocent animals are treated in its production. I welcome the work of organisations such as Humane Society International in raising awareness of this issue. It is also the case that this industry presents a serious threat to human health.
There was a Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons on November 5, 2015 which called for an immediate end to dog meat trade cruelty and called on the Chinese government to stop the Yulin dog meat festival where thousands of dogs are cruelly bound, confined, trucked and slaughtered for meat each year. I supported the motion, which was agreed to without a vote.
The Government point out that in the absence of international laws governing the trade and consumption of dog meat, the UK has no legal grounds to intervene or take trade measures against countries where the consumption of dog meat is regarded as culturally acceptable.
However, the Government has said it is prepared to tackle cultural norms, particularly when it comes to the consumption and use of animals, and that it will continue to raise concerns with countries engaged in the trade and the consumption of dog meat.
During the recent debate, the Minister indicated that he will write to UK ambassadors to review what they are doing in relation to the dog meat trade and what is appropriate within each country. The Government has also committed to consider a review of how it interacts on this issue with various international organisations specifically on the issue of health.
While the Government cannot legislate beyond the UK, I hope it will continue to use diplomatic and other opportunities to ensure these cruel and hazardous practices are brought to an end and that it will press counterparts around the world to collaborate in efforts to change attitudes and reduce animal suffering.
I hope that the Government will carefully consider the points that were made during the recent debate and listen to the concerns that have been raised about this important issue.