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Can commercial dog meat ever be humane?

Separated by wire mesh, these dogs are chained to keep them in the confines of their cages. The wire flooring presents a further discomfort.

Commercial dog meat production is an inherently cruel practice. The animals suffer at every stage, from farming (or capture) through to transport and slaughter.

Why can’t dogs be farmed without cruelty?

WSPA works around the world to improve conditions for animals that have been bred for thousands of years to be suited to a high welfare farm environment. We call for legislation protecting their wellbeing, based on the "Five Freedoms" that set a basic standard for animal welfare.

But the behavioral and physical needs of dogs cannot be met in a commercially viable farm or during long distance transport to markets. For example: 

  • Dogs are highly social animals that suffer when kept in individual cages and deprived of contact with other dogs or humans. However, group housing can also cause suffering through fighting and chronic stress.

  • Dogs are carnivorous and need a high protein diet. Low profit margins on dog farms often mean dogs are fed poor quality offal or even the carcasses of other dogs, creating a disease-prone food chain with serious consequences for human consumers.

No farm could give dogs the space, feed and care they need and still make a profit.

Given this fact, WSPA supports the stance taken by Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong, where complete bans on the slaughter of dogs for human consumption have been imposed in response both to public concern and health fears around eating these species.

Will regulating the dog meat trade make it more humane?

Illegal dog meat on sale at a South Korean market. A packed cage of live dogs awaiting slaughter is visible in the background.

Simply put, no. Attempts at regulation have focused on protecting human health rather than animal welfare, as diseases that can be transmitted to humans (including rabies and cholera) are easily spread in the unsanitary conditions dogs are farmed and killed in.

So regulation might lend respectability to the dog meat trade, but would ignore the fact that there is no humane, economically viable method of commercial dog meat production.

Why isn’t regulation a good short-term measure?

As an animal welfare organization, WSPA seeks to bring an end to cruel practices, not regulate or legalize them.

Alongside other animal welfare organizations, WSPA believes that regulation would:

  • allow the dog meat trade to continue under legal protection
  • further establish and increase the current welfare abuses with greater sales
  • have the potential to create another factory farming industry, despite the abuses apparent in existing intensive animal-rearing systems
  • make an end to the trade – which WSPA is working with partner organizations in South Korea and elsewhere to achieve – a more difficult goal.

Two million dogs are killed for meat each year in South Korea alone. Every single one will have suffered.

Read more about the dog meat trade >>

Make a donation to WSPA’s animal protection work >>

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