What's wrong with eating dog meat?
A Chinese animal lover consoles a dog after a convoy of trucks carrying some 500 dogs to be sold as meat, were stopped along a highway in Beijing on early April 17, 2011, and the dogs were later rescued to the China Animal Protection Association. There were about 58 million pet dogs in 20 major Chinese cities at the end of 2009 and the figure is rising about 30 percent each year, according to a survey, as pet owners in China spend an estimated two billion USD a year on their animals.
June 30th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

What's wrong with eating dog meat?

By , Global Post

Barbecued dog and steamed paws?

These and so much more were to be had at this weekend's dog meat festival near Seoul.

Alas, it was not to be.

Animal rights activists put up such a stink that the organizers, from the Korea Dog Farmers' Association, said there was no way they could go through with the event.

"We couldn't possibly go on with the plan due to endless phone calls of complaint ... now there are few willing to rent us a place for the event," Ann Yong-Geun, a professor of nutrition at Chung Cheong University and an advisor to the association, told AFP.

Organizers of the festival had wanted to showcase the positive side of the dog meat industry in South Korea, where there are about 600 farms that raise dogs for meat, according to Ann.

Dog soup, or Boshintang, is a summer delicacy in South Korea, though the Wall Street Journal reports that it isn't as popular as the media would make it seem.

A minority of people eat it regularly. It’s consumed most frequently in summer but is available year-round. And it’s more popular with men than women and is said to possess qualities that "help stamina."

They were, for example, going to show videos of farms raising dogs under sanitary conditions — something, they will tell you, that would become a more ubiquitous practice were the industry legalized and regulated.

But for many activists, the humane treatment of the dogs is beside the point. To them, dogs are companions not a main course, end of story.

Read: North Korean propaganda.

The irony is that in South Korea, that wasn't really true until more recently. And even now, it's really only true in the city, where they raise "pet dogs," as opposed to "meat dogs."

As William Saletan wrote in Slate a few years back:

In the country, they raise "meat dogs," also known as "junk dogs" and "lower-grade" dogs. But you don't become a "lower-grade" dog by flunking an IQ test. You're just born in the wrong place. Then you're slaughtered and fed to a man who thinks he's humane because he pampers a Golden Retriever that has half your brains.

So, what's really wrong with eating dog? Just because we don't do it in the U.S. doesn't seem to make for a very good argument.

GlobalPost's Dog Meat Mafia series, delves into the seedy world of the booming dog meat industry in Southeast Asia.

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Topics: China • Culture • East Asia

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soundoff (2,498 Responses)
  1. Shachar

    Morally, we say no, it is not right. What if you were starving? Through out history, people have eaten many animals, of all kinds, to survive. I have eaten dog (not to survive) but learned about it after the fact. Cooked properly, it can be quite tasty. When I lived in Central America there were things I ate that you would never find on your mother's Sunday dinner table. And I like it. Put it perspective. Some people eat squid. I have eaten at what I thought were reasonably good restaurants, only to find they were closed down later on because the health dept. caught them serving dog. To each his own.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  2. Sangye

    Truly, eating dog isn't any more intrinsically "wrong" than eating pigs, cows, or poultry. You have to understand that this aversion to eating dog comes from a cultural taboo - just as our aversion to incest, or cannibalism.
    Morality is culturally constructed.
    Still, I would say that it is a particularly powerful aversion, because of our tendency to empathize with dogs, whereas on the whole we don't tend to empathize with pigs, cows, or poultry.
    Personally I strive to empathize with every sentient being, and so I'm a hardcore vegan.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  3. mensaboy

    Meat is meat.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  4. krazykat44

    Hey, Emily. What's really wrong with cannibalism?

    July 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  5. hanmari

    This article fails to mention the intentional cruelty inflicted on the dogs when killing them. I would eat dog meat if it was "harvested" in a way that wasn't brutal. However, Korean dog harvesting requires that the animal be hurt as much as possible while killing it. The "theory" is that adrenalin makes the meat softer and more tasty. I lived in Korea and hated walking past the dog farms when they were "harvesting" the beasts.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  6. Not.As.Dumb.As.U

    Koreans suck

    July 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  7. Tim_in_STL

    In the immortal words of the movie Motel Hell, "Meat is meat, and a man's gotta eat." That's why I am a vegetarian.

    July 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  8. Crystal

    Absolutely Wrong!!!!!!!!! what is wrong with people?!? eating a pet is like saying youd eat a child!! wtf?!!?!?

    July 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • eat what?

      I'm afraid I can't quite equivicate a pet with one of my kids. I mean, I know I call them little animals sometimes, but I draw the line at putting a leash on 'em and letting them cr a p in my neighbors yard. Eating a pet cannot be compared with eating a child. Pets is pets. Animlas are lower life forms and here for my pleasure, being friends or being food. Spare me all the inevitable "life form" retorts all you intellectual CNN fans. Happy B-Day America!

      July 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  9. Wasabiwahabi

    well, if the North Koreans do it, it's got to be good!

    July 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  10. David Martines

    I only eat vegatarians. But if I were starving I would eat a dog. Eating dogs as an aphrodisiac is like eating monkey brains for the same reason; Pretty ignorant actually. However, some folks find a certain pride in their ignorance. So good luck abolishing something folks are prideful about.

    July 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    • Wasabiwahabi

      "I only eat vegatarians" You mean you eat only humans? You refuse to carnivores? You're not really a cannibal. I hope. Well, this is CNN.

      July 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Reply
      • Sad

        This world has become DISGUSTING place.

        July 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Seri

    All mammals share most of their genetic material with us, and are closely related to us. We should all become more humane and go vegetarian!

    July 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  12. bdgfn

    I unknowingly ate dogmeat once while in the Phillipines. When I got home the next day, my dog could smell it on me and would have nothing to do with me for a week. Did I like the taste? Not really. Would I eat it again? Only if it meant the difference between survival and death.

    July 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  13. My2c

    All Taboos apart, I think dog is special to us humans. Why special? Because it connects SO WELL with our conscience. Very few animals represent values that civilized humans admire and follow and would want to pass on to generations. Virtues such as friendship, loyalty, communication and protection, caring and emotions – these values are shared and embraced by humans world over – and a dog represents all such virtues. HENCE, it troubles us to kill dogs for food. Not only dog, all those animals (horse is another animal) representing above virtues are dear to our heart and hence taboo as regard to treating them as food. Pig may be lot smarter, but does not share all virtues as dog and horses.

    July 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  14. Carson

    I stand up for animals and care for them as much as I can. But being who I am, I also eat meat. I eat healthy, trusted brands when I eat hamburgers, hotdogs or pepperoni. But one thing I would never eat is dog meat. Dogs and cats seem so connected and close to humans that we share houses and money with them. I think of dogs and cats, ect. to be too much of a companion to think of them as a meal. I hope that someday people won't think of dogs as meals. Until then, I hope that all of these dog farms are sanitary and humane. I pray that these dogs are not tortured or suffering. Don't eat dogs!!!!!!! ITS CRUEL AND RIDICULOUS.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  15. Carson

    Its sad.
    There are so many other animals on Earth that are eaten as a meal because its in our food chain. But DOGS???? That is ridiculous. Dogs are meant to be Man's Best Friend and a loving companion who helps us with our problems and helps us see another side of life. Dogs weren't put on this Earth to be eaten by humans. There are so many other animals that people live off. Like cows, chicken, turkey, pigs.
    I hope these dog farms stop. And until then, I hope that they are sanitary and humane. I don't want these dogs to be abused, suffering, tortured or eaten any longer.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  16. mother of four

    We have altered the make up of the dog so much that he can read our body language, follow the direction of finger when we point, and will place himself in the path of danger to protect us. If we can make a dog understand what we want–he will do his best to obey, with no regard for his own safety. This makes them unique among the animals we keep. Cats like us just fine, but are rarely about obeying us unless it pleases them too. And even most horses are not this devoted. There are other food sources–ones that won't care if your house burns down with you in it, whose entire existence does not revolve around pleasing those they trust with their own lives.

    And this isn't about lack of food availability. I get that can understand and sympathize with those who must eat what is available to them (even if it's a dog). But there are six hundred farms there raising dogs to eat, so obviously they have the resources to feed them. Why aren't they raising chickens instead? And it is no longer about culture–obviously the majority of the population in Korea no longer views dogs as a source of food. This is about a persistent myth and those who pander to it for the sake of money. It's that simple.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  17. BumperSpot

    I heard it tastes like chicken. Ummm

    July 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  18. Schro

    To those who argue it's immoral 'cause you can teach a dog tricks... ANYTHING can be taught tricks. Cows can be trained. So can sheep. So can pigs. So trainability means we shouldn't eat it?! We're not talking about eating your beloved pet, the article detailed farms... much like the farms that raise the meat products we enjoy here in the states. Just cause little farmer boy Jimmy loves their cow Betsy doesn't mean Farmer John is in the wrong for slaughtering and eating or selling it.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  19. mk

    cease the sufffering of all animals. Being vegetarian is awesome. Thats my two cents worth

    July 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  20. Uma

    This is not about people starving! There is plenty of food in Korea. There a small mental minority of people who eat disease infested dog meat because they believe it will give them sexual stamina. Try Viagra instead!. All Korean women should avoid men who eat dog meat and hopefully this horrid industry will go away.

    This article mentions just because they don't eat dog meat in US..., well, guess what! Most countries don't raise or eat dog meat either. India, Middle Eastern Countries, Africa, South America, Russia, Europe.

    Dogs are human companions, it is cruel and inhuman to raise and kill (torture) them for food.
    Show some compassion and respect for all living creatures and one another and this world will become a better place.

    For the Korean people who stood up against this horrid dog festival. Bless you! Continue to educate the young so they don't continue with this practice. Vegetarian is a much healthier and better option for the whole world to follow.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  21. ceo

    I side for the dogs

    July 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  22. Chris

    I lived in South Korea for a number of years and watched slack-jawed as Korean men spoke of the stamina-enhancing qualities of dog meat. And how does the meat become even MORE stamina-enhancing? By killing the animal when it is frightened, scared, or aggressive. The manner in which these dogs are killed is simply barbaric. Whether burned alive, beaten with sticks, placed in large bags and kicked, these dog meat producers are sub-humans in their treatment of dogs. The pure hypocracy of the South Korean restaurants, to on one hand ban the sale of dog meat, yet on the other hand launch new inspection procedures for boshintang restaurants (because most are poorly maintained) is outright wrong. Korea needs to join the 20th century (yes I know it's the 21st C but they are THAT far behind) and stop this absolute insanity. Oh, and Dokdo isn't Korean, it's Takeshima and it belongs to Japan...

    July 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Reply
    • JL

      Hey Chris? I don't know what the hell that you are thinking, but it's sure that you are a son of a bitch or an asshole. YOuare a racist and you are stupid. South Korea has millions of proof that Dokdo is ours. By the way, you said Korea is REALLY far apart. WELL, YOUR ARE WRONG. What you use everyday might be Korean. Your phone or laptop could be Samsung or LG. Maybe what you're saying is North Korea but NEVER South Korea. If you are Japenese, I would know for sure that you are just a fucking, damn racist who is selfish and thinks only about himself. Wake up! This is 21st Century! Not 20th Century where stupid Japs ruled Korea. Maybe you are the one who really needs to follow up. I am a Korean girl and your comments were very offensive, as well as very rude and insulting. You racists are to be thrown into hell.

      July 2, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Reply
      • spammerstakeahike

        @JL – There's nothing racist about the stuff Chris wrote. It's all true. Many dog meat operators torture the dogs to produce a better quality meat. No water is given to the dogs because the believe it will produce a lower grade meat. I could go on.

        And nobody really knows who has the right to claim Dokdo.
        I am Korean too by the way before you start accusing me of racism.

        July 3, 2011 at 4:37 am |
      • spammerstakeahike

        @JL – Concerning the Korean government, it's a fact that some of their decisions are backward minded. Think live culling. Don't tell me you think it's what a modern, high-tech and a member of G20 should be doing to their livestock. And the limbo mumbo jumbo laws surrounding the dog meat are just laughable.

        July 3, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  23. Angela

    I dont get why this is an issue. I have dogs and love them but if I had cows Id love them too. We have farms that raise cows, pigs, chickens...etc and they probably think that we are barbaric. Its culture and everyone has different cultures and thats what makes the world go round.
    We should leave them alone and let them eat what theyve been eating for decades and eat what we want. If everyone on earth was the same, wed all be screwed!
    Why do we always need people to be just like the US....they need to be just like themselves. TO each their own!

    July 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  24. Li Tai Fang

    Muslims and Jews don't eat pigs. Hindus don't eat cows. Americans don't eat dogs.
    No one should impose their diet culture to anyone else.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  25. Wermfud

    I have chickens as pets and eat their eggs, but I also buy chicken at the store and eat it. I wouldn't butcher my own chickens unless I needed to, because we form bonds with our pets (even if they are stupid chickens). But I gotta say, dogs are a lot more "companion like" than chickens. It's simple; If you've ever raised livestock, you'll understand the difference between our pets and the animals we eat.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  26. ERIC21

    Ive been in countries and eaten much worse

    July 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  27. NP

    I'd eat human before I eat Dog.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  28. Kat

    I'm not going to tell all of you how ridiculous you are for fighting over this since it's a matter of opinion and opinion alone. Most of you have no idea what your talking about anyway. I just want to offer my opinion which is that I am neither for nor against the eating of dogs. It's no different than eating any other kind of meat and when you were raised to believe there's nothing wrong with it (same way Americans are raised to believe it's ok to eat chickens, pigs, and cows) then, in your mind, there will never be anything wrong with it. I own dogs and pigs as pets and I would never eat any of them because I raised them and they are family to me. Ifoffered dog meat and had no prior connection to the dog, I might eat it. I have been to Asia and I do understand their point of view so I will not say it is right or wrong for them to eat dog. It all depends on how you were raised and what you believe. So, please, stop fighting over whether it's wrong or right and whether someone else's opinion is wrong or right because, it's just that, an opinion. And if your going to argue about it make sure you have your facts right first.

    And by the way, it has nothing to do with the IQ of the animal. I'm not sure about cows and chickens, but pigs (on average) are just as smart, if not smarter, than dogs.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  29. MLGrant

    Each society has to make that decision on its own. But I, for one, would not live in a society that eats dogs if I have the choice. They eat EVERYTHING that moves in China..is that wrong?...Not necessarily....Is it gross?....To me it is!

    But as an unapologetic cow/pig/fish/lamb meat-eater, I can't say there's anything "morally" wrong with it....I'm no one to judge. I do not think, however, that the "IQ" of the animal has anything to do with it...We eat what we eat...

    July 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  30. Curtis

    What is being overlooked is the fact that the manner with which many of these dogs are butchered, which leads to the idea that they provide 'stamina' for males who eat them is this: dogs are beaten mercilessly prior to slaughter, which raises the amount of adrenaline in their systems, which is term believed to be consumed with the meat.

    July 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Reply
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