Animal

Loophole which lets people in UK kill and eat their dog ‘must be closed’


MPs say a ‘needless loophole’ in the law sends out the wrong message (Picture: Getty Images)

A petition calling for the consumption of dog and cat meat to be outlawed in the UK has won the backing of several MPs.

Surprisingly, it is not against the law to kill your own dog or cat and eat it in Britain, as long as it killed ‘humanely’, according to the RSPCA, although it would be illegal to sell its meat.

While the practice is thankfully very rare in the UK, politicians and animal rights campaigners say it’s no use lobbying countries like China and South Korea to put a stop to it if it isn’t banned at home.

A number of countries including the US and Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan have recently introduced a ban to take a stand, and British activists argue doing the same would send a message to the world.

Beverly Cooke, co-founder of UK Against Global Dog & Cat Meat Trade has started a petition to get the law changed and has been backed by several members of parliament.

Once it gets to 10,000 signatures the Government will have to respond to it, and at 100,000 it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Beverly told Metro.co.uk: ‘We believe as a group we should be sending a clear message worldwide that we don’t support it.

‘We’re being a bit hypocritical. If we go to other countries and say “you can’t eat that dog, that you’re slaughtering in front of the public right now” and they go “yeah but you could if you wanted to. Who the hell do you think you are as a country to tell us not to do something you are able to do?”‘

Activists say it would be easier to lobby against events like the Yulin dog meat festival if we changed the law at home (Picture: Getty Images)
UK Against Global Dog & Cat Meat Trade founder Beverly Cooke is trying to get the Government to listen (Picture: Beverly Cooke)

Beverly, 56, from Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, told of her frustration when in 2019, the Ministry of Justice stepped in to halt a proposed ban over fears it would be ‘culturally insensitive’.

She added: ‘I think there’s a chance they can be won over because every day another member of parliament is backing up and standing behind people who can get this done.’

Just weeks ahead of last year’s infamous Yulin dog meat festival, China’s agriculture ministry declared that dogs are companions and not livestock, signalling a step in the right direction.

But Beverly, who founded her campaign group with Angela Jones, says the black market of pets stolen t be eaten is still booming, with little law enforcement in many parts of the region.



What the RSPCA say

‘Although there are no rules against somebody keeping and humanely killing their own dog for meat, for the purposes of their own consumption – the RSPCA would not condone anyone attempting this.

‘They would also not be able to distribute or sell any of the meat due to legislation surrounding home killing (the same applies for home-killed livestock).

‘There is currently no slaughter legislation preventing the killing of a dog in an abattoir, but neither is there any legislation or infrastructure that would support it.

‘The main issue is likely to be surrounding meat hygiene rather than slaughter itself – meat hygiene inspectors would not have appropriate training to be able to work with dog meat, for example, being able to identify diseases of human health importance.

‘There is also, of course, the issue of humane killing – it would be possible to kill a dog humanely, but it could be difficult to ascertain whether or not the dog suffered in individual circumstances.’

She added: It’s heartbreaking, I’ve seen videos of thieves in transit vans, with Chinese and South Korean people walking their pets… and then a hook on a stick comes out and the dog is hooked from its coat and skin and ripped out from the owner’s hands.

‘The dog’s gone, all because there’s a demand for it, it’s on the black market. They’ll sell that dog to a butcher then for like £100, it’s like a drug deal.’

Among politicians backing the petition is MP for East Kilbride Lisa Cameron, chair of the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group.

She told Metro.co.uk that members of the public are ‘quite shocked’ there isn’t already a ban.

Dr Cameron added: ‘I understand the Government are saying there’s not particularly any evidence that it’s happening in the UK but that means there’s no need not to ban it then.

While China have made efforts in recent years to crack down on dog consumption, the practice still goes on (Picture: Getty Images)
Bizarrely, it is not illegal in the UK to kill your own dog and eat it, as long as it is killed ‘humanely’ (Picture: Getty Images)

‘This is a win-win. It’s not offending anybody, there’s not going to be any opposition to it I don’t think.

‘If other countries have been making huge strides on this then it would show leadership from the UK to support that work and to have a ban.

‘The UK are a nation of dog lovers and animal welfare is a key priority for people across the UK.’

MP for Crawley Henry Smith added: ‘This country should be leading by example, if we are going to be telling other countries like South Korea or China not to consume dog meat then we only have moral authority to do that if its practice is illegal in this country as well .

‘It would be a line in a piece of legislation on animal welfare going through parliament anyway. It’s eminently doable without any difficulty.

Campaigners say the UK can only ‘lead by example’ if its laws are consistent (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Chair of the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group Lisa Cameron says members of the public are ‘quite shocked’ that there isn’t already a ban (Picture: PA)

‘The idea that this is somehow some kind of ethnically sensitive issue I think is offensive to many people of Chinese and Korean origin who are just as appalled by the practice as we are in this country.

‘I’ve got no problem telling people in Spain that bullfighting is cruel or the French that foie gras production is cruel, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-Spanish, French Chinese or Korean. I think these are cruel practices that have had their day.’

MP for Romford Andrew Rosindell added: ‘As a nation of animal lovers, it’s vital that the UK becomes a world leader in animal welfare, setting the standards for other nations to follow.

‘There is virtually unanimous opposition in this country to the consumption of dog and cat meat. We rightly view such a thing as abhorrent.’

He added that the ‘needless loophole’ of being able to eat dog and cat meat in the UK ‘confuses the message’ the country wants to send.

Rosindell added: ‘When the Chinese province of Shenzen recently criminalised the consumption of dog and cat meat, officials pointed to the example of other nations as justification.

‘This shows the impact that international influence can have, and emphasises the need for the U.K. to set such an example.’

A Government spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘Cats and dogs are much-loved companions and we have robust laws in place to protect their welfare.

‘The selling of dog and cat meat in this country is already illegal and we are leading the way in raising animal welfare and food hygiene standards.’

Click here to sign the petition.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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