The Life of a "Meat" dog in South Korea - Waiting to Die, Fighting to Live
Presented at the House of Commons, London, on the 28th January to nearly 200 MPs, celebrities and animal advocates by Peter Egan on behalf of CFAF.
Dogs caught up in South Korea’s dog meat industry live miserable lives. Throughout their short lives, they are never shown anything but brutality, and the absolute indifference to their sentience is incomprehensible. I have been told countless times that dogs raised on South Korea’s thousands of farms are “soulless”, that this is their “destiny”. But I have met these dogs. I have looked them in the eyes and I see their soul and, more poignantly, I see their fear. Despite their treatment, every dog in each and every market and farm I have visited, has come to the bars- head bowed, tail wagging submissively. Their craving for human touch, for reprieve, is overwhelming. No animal wants to die, yet they sit there, every day of their lives, waiting for their moment. Many of them see what is awaiting them when their turn comes. The cage is opened, a noose thrown over their neck. The dogs beg for mercy. Backing away and trying to lick at the hand that holds the noose. But no remorse or shame is shown. The dogs fight, until their last breath. Dragged out of the cage, into a truck or straight for slaughter. The screaming and absolute fear is haunting.
We have heard claims that dog eating is part of “culture” and “tradition”. And our resolute response is that these are never excuses for cruelty nor are they exempt from change, at home or abroad. Culture evolves as times change. All animals deserve to have a life worth living. No animal’s ‘destiny’ is to endure such profound suffering.
The practice of dog meat consumption is a highly contentious and emotive issue wherever it is prevalent, and there is an ever-growing animal protection movement in Asia that needs international support. As I was once told by someone who had committed their lives to fighting the dog meat industry in South Korea, “until we can gain support for a dog meat ban, what hope do we have for other animals”.
We campaign for an outright ban on the production and consumption of dog meat because regulating its production would mean endorsing the systematic cruelty the dogs endure throughout their lives and when they are brutally killed. Once legalised, there would be no turning back from the large-scale production of dog meat, setting a dangerous precedent.
I dream of the day when the dog meat industry is banished to the history books, when dog farms are closed down, and when a dog’s value is never again measured on the scales. It is my hope that this day will spark a commitment from everyone to be part of this campaign. It is my hope that we can move forward. Let’s not always go back to circular arguments. Let’s not use the suffering of some species in one country as an excuse for that of a different species in another. This is not an issue of “cultural” or “personal” preference. This is an issue of inherent and inexcusable cruelty.
Throughout the world, dogs are cherished as "therapists" in schools and in hospitals and homes for the young and elderly, in recognition of the psychological and physical benefits they can bring. Dogs work with our police and armies, serving mankind loyally. So they deserve the right to be protected from cruelty, and to be recognized as companion animals.
It is a difficult campaign- one that requires the socio-legal status of dogs to be redefined- but it is achievable. We have moved mountains before and we will do so again. This is how we have left some of humanity’s most barbaric practices firmly in the past.
I made a vow to the dogs I saw in Moran Market on my first trip to South Korea on the 28th February 2011 that I would never stop fighting until the dog meat industry ends. It is a promise I have every intention of keeping. It fills me with such sadness to know that a ban will come too late for so many dogs, including the ones I saw that day. The guilt of leaving them behind is a burden I will carry on my shoulders for many years to come. But it also keeps the fire of determination burning.
So I leave you with two questions, “If not you then who? If not now then when?”