Congress Passes Anti-Dog-Meat Legislation, Highlights Human Hypocrisy

Bipartisan legislation proposed by Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) to ban knowingly slaughtering, transporting, possessing, buying, selling, or donating dogs or cats for human consumption passed the House last week. The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act will ensure anyone who violates the law will receive a $5,000 fine. The House also passed a nonbinding resolution urging other nations to end their dog and cat meat trades.

Although legal in 44 states, killing dogs or cats for food is incredibly rare. In fact, most people shudder at the thought of eating their companion animals. This legislation and the nonbinding resolution show our glaring inconsistency regarding the animals we kill for food and those we choose to love.

People are outraged by dogs chained up next to their recently slaughtered friends, but they don’t bat an eye when a chicken is in the same situation. They cringe at bodies of slaughtered dogs on display in foreign markets but pay no mind to bodies of butchered pigs on display in their local grocery stores. They cheer when dogs are saved from the meat trade but don’t think twice about animals who suffer at factory farms and slaughterhouses in their own country. It’s the height of hypocrisy!

In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Mercy For Animals’ director of communications, Kenny Torrella, wrote:
Our hypocrisy on animal protection issues is perhaps most glaring when we vilify those in other countries for eating cats and dogs while we in the U.S. lead the world in meat consumption, using the most barbaric farming practices.
He continued to highlight our obscene double standard on animal rights:
Each year, we dote on our companion animals, spending $70 billion on treats, toys and veterinarian appointments. We let them sleep in our beds and consider them members of the family. And increasingly, our laws reflect the special place cats and dogs hold in the American psyche.

Yet we spend much more money each year on meat, milk and eggs, nearly all of which come from animals who suffer immensely inside factory farms. But the only meaningful difference between animals we consider family members and those we consider food is our treatment of them. All animals experience pain and pleasure, and they all deserve consideration and respect.
For many people, dogs are companion animals to cuddle with, take for walks, and treat like family. But the only difference between dogs and the cows, pigs, and chickens killed for food is our perception of them.

In fact, farmed animals are just as intelligent and sensitive as the dogs and cats in our homes. Consider, for example, that chickens can recognize more than 100 individuals, cows form close friendships, and pigs are thought to have the intelligence of a three-year-old child.

And while prohibiting the consumption of dog and cat meat in the United States is a step forward, it also points out our callousness toward pigs, chickens, cows, fish, and other animals exploited for profit.

Even though cows, pigs, and chickens are similar to dogs in all the ways that matter, in the United States they are relegated to intense and unimaginable cruelties: extreme confinement; brutal mutilations; and bloody, violent deaths.

We should applaud the House for this move to protect companion animals and encourage even stronger laws for animals throughout the country. But we should also look in the mirror and ask why we love some animals and eat others.

No one needs to eat animal products to survive. In fact, the opposite is true. There are tremendous health and environmental benefits to ditching animal products. Right now, millions of people thrive on a delicious and humane plant-based diet.

So if you love dogs and cats and see them as the unique, sensitive, and intelligent beings they are, it’s time you opened your eyes and started seeing farmed animals the same way.

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