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Inside the Cat and Dog Meat Market in China

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Published on Mar 10, 2010

WARNING - viewers may find some images in this report disturbing. Dogs bark and whine behind high chain-link fences, some of them gnawing the wire so hard they bleed at the mouths while cats packed into crowded cages cower in fear if anyone approaches.

This isn't a pet store -- it's a meat market in Guangzhou, a city in southern China where eating cats and dogs is common practice.

At the Han River Dog Meat Restaurant in central Guangzhou, diners can choose from a long list of menu items, including dog soup, dog steak, dog with tofu and more. In the kitchen, the chef chops up meat for dog hot pot, one of the more popular dishes. Most customers like it spicy.

"Dog meat is good for your health and metabolism," explains Li, the hostess who declined to give her first name. "In the summer it helps you sweat."

Should cat and dog meat be banned?

But these local restaurants may have to find a new specialty. The Chinese government is considering legislation that would make eating cats and dogs illegal.

Professor Chang Jiwen of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences is one of the law's top campaigners. "Cats and dogs are loyal friends to humans," he said. "A ban on eating them would show China has reached a new level of civilization."
Eating dog meat is a long-standing culinary tradition not just in China, but also Korea. Cat meat can be found on the menu in China, Vietnam and even parts of South America.

The Chinese government has signaled a willingness to take the meat off the market. To avoid upsetting international visitors during the Beijing Olympics, officials ordered dog meat off the menus at local markets. Officials in Guangzhou have warned vendors to stop selling it ahead of the Asian Games which will be held there later this year.

The ban on eating dog and cat meat is part of a larger proposal to toughen laws on animal welfare. Individual violators could face up to 15 days in prison and a small fine. Businesses found guilty of selling the meat risk fines up to 500,000 yuan ($73,500.)

The legislation is gaining support from China's growing number of pet owners. With living standards rising and disposable income growing, more Guangzhou residents are investing in house pets.

"I would never eat dog meat," said Louisa Yong, as she clutches her pet cocker spaniel. "It's so cruel!"

Meat vendors have a different view.

"The dogs you raise at home, you shouldn't eat," said Pan, a butcher who also declined to give his first name. "The kind raised for eating, we can eat those."

Many of the dogs and cats sold for meat are specially raised on farms. But Chang said there is always a chance they're someone's lost or stolen pet.

In anticipation of the new ban, dog and cat meat has become more difficult to find, though some vendors say they will keep selling it as long as they can.

"The legislation will definitely affect our restaurant," said Li. "We'll just wait to see the result."

And it seems restaurants don't necessarily need to change their menus anytime soon. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the law prohibiting cat and dog meat could take as long as a decade to pass. Until then it's a la carte, from the cage into the kitchen.

Comments • 2,642

Debbie S
Look at the factory raised chickens , cows, pigs ... torture ! I feel all animal meat needs to be banned world wide
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Zs Chan
seems yummy. added to my must eat list
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al roque
The shame on you Korean and Chinese Dog and Cat meat consumers.  May you all rot in hell... Damn all of you!!!
ManofChrist101
Pigs are just as intelligent as dogs. If you think dog shouldn't be eaten, then you must also oppose pork. At the end of the day animals are not moral agents with philosophies, technologies and rights.
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Ahmet Berke Kevser
It is stupid to consider not eating cats and dog as a sign of becoming civilized.
Allan Yanez
And of course we have all these racist comments against asians.
doggynolikey
That food actually looks pretty tasty. I'd eat it if it were put in front of me. After all, meat is meat. Only Vegans have the right to complain about something like this.
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Yifu Yang
愛吃吃,不吃滾。站在那扯球個毛線啊,世界大了去了,什麼飲食習慣沒有,還都要按你們西方人的標準來啊?是不是哪天西方人把豬當成寵物養了,全世界其它地方吃豬肉也都成不人道了?閒著蛋疼管管你們自家的事好吧
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Scared Cat
Whoever hates china eating cats and dogs like this comment
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osmanstpaul
They believe that the more a dog suffers before it dies the tastier its meat, which is why they slowly kill dogs and torture them so they can suffer.
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