Starving civilians in Gaza are hunting stray cats and dogs on the streets for food

NEWS AND COMMENT: The Times tells us that children eat rotten food (and become sick); adult civilians hunt cats and famine is coming to Gaza.

The Al Jazeera website tells us that the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has warned that nowhere near enough provisions are entering besieged Gaza. The situation leaves 40% of the population of Gaza at risk of famine. The Israelis are curbing much-needed aid trucks entering the enclave.

Starving displaced Palestinians in Gaza strip begging for food at a rescue center.
Starving, displaced Palestinians in Gaza strip begging for food at a rescue center. It’s horrible and incredibly sad. The photograph is courtesy The Times.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees recently warned that the besieged enclave is “grappling with catastrophic hunger”. It reiterated its call for a humanitarian ceasefire but IDF (Israel Defense Forces) bombs keep raining down from the north to the south. Catastrophic disease is also imminent.

RELATED: No cat food in Gaza since the war began on Oct 7

The IDF ordered Gaza’s civilians to migrate from the north to the south of the strip while they bombed the north but now, they are bombing the south. It seems that there is nowhere safe in Gaza for the Palestinian civilians. Israel has committed to continuing for the foreseeable future. Are the Israeli’s hellbent on destroying Gaza? Who will rebuild it?

I have not got hard detail about Gaza and civilians killing and eating cats and dogs but perhaps it leaves little to the imagination. Perhaps you don’t need details. There are stray cats and dogs in Gaza. They might have been community cats or they might be formerly owned cats but their owner has been killed as an estimated 22,000 civilians (Palestinian estimate) have been killed in the shelling and bombing by Israel.

And now the cats and dogs can only serve one last purpose: to feed the surviving humans. This is not how cat domestication was meant to pan out. It’s an example of how humankind can totally screw up the domestication of cats and dogs through its idiocy. I’m angry because innocent animals are dying needlessly in large numbers. No doubt the cats and dogs are also starving because there is no dog and cat food on the strip any more. The cats and dogs of Ukraine are also suffering tremendously. It’s unforgivable of humankind. Shame on us all.

Update from The Sunday Times which I can read today on New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope the New Year brings better luck for the Palestinians and of course the Israelis.

Most food markets are closed and food is sold when it becomes available presumably from shipments coming in on lorries from Egypt. There is massive inflation in Gaza. A kilo of rice costs £8 (sterling) if you can find it. Banks are closed and even the middle class are going hungry. There is never enough food to go around a family. 1.5 L of water is provided for each family when 15 L is required. That is the total amount of water they have for drinking and washing et cetera.

More than a million Palestinians have fled to the south to places such as al-Mawasi. It stinks of rubbish and toxic smoke. Once again there is never enough food. A mother says that her children have scabies, diarrhoea and lice. She doesn’t know where her husband is. It’s an encampment where there is no wood to make fires. That was long gone. They search for plastic, bottles, crates. The need to burn it to keep warm. The sound of drones and warplanes are high above.

They constantly look for food. Most people have nothing perhaps a few cans of beans or tuna.

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South Korean dog farmers threaten to release 2 million dogs in Seoul

NEWS AND OPINION: It appears to me that money trumps morality for the cruel South Korean dog farmers but it seems that they don’t see their dog meat farms as cruel places. You may remember that the South Korean president, with his wife’s encouragement, has decided to ban dog meat in his country with it coming into effect in 2027. There will be a gradual phase-out of the businesses and there will be compensation provided by the government.

But despite what appears to be a reasonable and lengthy process, the farmers are up in arms and there are lots of them. The Korean Association of Edible Dogs claims that there are 3,500 dog meat farms in South Korea raising 1.5 million dogs annually and there are 3,000 restaurants where they sell dog meat. They claim that this is twice the official number.

South Korea’s dog farmers are devastated. They have nothing to fall back on. But the point is that it is going to be a four-year phase-out so that have time to find alternative employment.

Threat

But they are so disappointed in the government that they have threatened to release 2 million dogs around government buildings in the capital Seoul. That’s a rather impressive threat but animal advocates will hope that the government does not back down.

It is a cruel business

You don’t have to go far to discover that a high percentage of these millions of dogs are diseased and suffer from malnutrition due to extreme neglect. And the methods they used to kill the dogs are very cruel with electrocution being the most common.

The Humane Society International can add some more information about the cruelty of these businesses. For example, they live outdoors in small cages with no protection from the hot summers or brutally cold winters.

Superstition leads elderly to believe in medicinal benefits

And to add insult to injury, one reason why usually senior South Koreans eat dog meat is because they think it has medicinal benefis but there is no science to back it up. They believe eating dog meat invigorates the blood and reduces lethargy. For them it is some kind of tonic and it sold in traditional medicine shops.

It’s particularly popular in the summer months especially during a period called Bok Nal which is the three hottest days between July and August when 70-80% of dog meat is consumed.

HSI has worked hard on this

Humane Society International has worked with South Korea since 2015 with the objective of closing down the farms. They’ve rescued more than 2,500 dogs who’ve been rehomed in The Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada and United States.

Businesses are closing anyway

The Korea Times stated that, “Fewer people in Seoul are eating dog, as nearly 40 percent of the restaurants selling dog meat have closed over the last 10 years”, which supports what I just said namely that the dog farms will need to start closing anyway. The ban speeds things up.

An important point to make is that only 8% of South Koreans eat dog meat despite the large number of restaurants which is a huge drop from 27% in 2015. The population, in any case, is going off dog meat and therefore it won’t be a big loss.

It might be reasonable to argue that these dog meat farmers will go out of business anyway over the next 5-10 years. It’s hard to know why they are complaining so much particularly when they conveniently ignore the cruelty of their businesses.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that the dog farmers should face up to the reality of what they’re doing in terms of cruelty and in terms of a business which is no longer in favour and accept the inevitable.

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We can thank President Yoon’s wife for South Korea’s ban on dog meat

NEWS AND OPINION: This is a story about the power of women behind leading politicians who can mould policies and influence male decision-makers. Yes, it is still a male world, regrettably. And look what they are doing to it.

South Korean President Yoon and his wife Kim, both cat and dog lovers. She pressed him to phase out the dog meat trade in South Korea
South Korean President Yoon and his wife Kim, both cat and dog lovers. She pressed him to phase out the dog meat trade in South Korea. Image: in public domain.

I recently wrote about South Korea’s intention to ban dog meat in their country. For many animal advocates this is a long-awaited step in the right direction. I really hope that China is listening.

One reason for this change in attitude to eating dog meat is that South Korea feels out of step with the rest of the world. And they are; as is China. Dogs are companions. They are not livestock. There were never intended to be livestock. There is a mutually beneficial contract between humans and dogs and it doesn’t include killing and eating them. What kind of deal is that?

I won’t go on. I want to focus on President Yoon’s wife. I should also say, though, that President Yoon, himself, is a dog lover. This begs the question, without being too critical, why he left it so long to ban dog meat. Ironically, a lot of people in the West support dog meat because they don’t see any difference between dog meat and cow meat but there’s a difference and it is the contract I mention above.

Also, in many Asian countries dogs are killed brutally for their meat. We have to bring into the equation how they are slaughtered. In China, dog meat, is a front for abject, callous cruelty.

Once again, I won’t go on. But I tend to get very angry when I write about dog and cat meat. It’s the background cruelty which really winds me up.

The Times reports that President Yoon is banning dog meat because of pressure from his wife and from the citizens of South Korea of which there are a growing number who are pet owners.

President Yoon delayed the ban which is going to be introduced by 2027 – a slow introduction to make the change acceptable to the dwindling number of farmers, slaughterhouse owners and restauranteurs who profit from the dog meat market.

Another underlying issue for me is that a lot of Asians think that eating dog or cat meat is beneficial to their health. However, there is no hard scientific evidence to support this. It seems that science doesn’t really have any impact on attitude.

Bosintang. Dog meat soup.
Bosintang. Image: Wikipedia.

RELATED: Mumbai’s dog and cat meat eaters

Dog meat used to be commonly eaten particularly in a soup called bosintang which, as mentioned, was believed to be beneficial to health during hot weather.  Bosintang: tan’gogiguk is a Korean soup (guk) that uses dog meat as its primary ingredient. The meat is boiled with vegetables such as green onions.

There’s been a great reduction in the number of restaurants serving this dish over recent years. And customers who want to eat it are normally elderly.

This is indicative of the change from attitudes of the elderly to attitudes of the youngsters who I suspect are driving this ban ultimately.

The South Korean government is going to compensate those businesses involved in the dog meat trade to make the change more palatable to them.

President Yoon and his wife Kim Keon-hee own six dogs and five cats. She has publicly spoken about the need for an end to the dog meat trade and consumption in South Korea. That is the power of the woman behind the throne. Thank you, Kim, for gently pushing the president towards ending what is, I believe, an attitude which is out of step with the modern world.

RELATED: Cat meat consumption today based on mediaeval superstitions

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South Korea is planning to phase out the dog meat industry

The cat and dog meat industry polarises people. In the West it is seen as obnoxious even obscene, while in Asia eating cat and dog meat is no different to eating chicken and pork. There is an attitude difference between Asia and the West in this respect. But it appears that the South Korean government have decided to phase out dog meat because it’s a divisive practice. It attracts criticism worldwide.

Dog meat will be phased out in South Korea under new legislation
Dog meat will be phased out in South Korea under new legislation. Image: MikeB.

I’m going to criticise the South Korean government right now because I don’t see a story about South Korea banning the practice of eating cat meat. Why are cats excluded from this legislation? I don’t understand. Perhaps the reporting is incomplete.

I’m told by The Independent that eating dog meat is not banned in South Korea currently but neither is it specifically a legal activity. And it appears that the eating of dog meat has declined in South Korea over the years because of criticism from animal rights groups. In addition, the younger generation have different attitudes to the older generation in South Korea. The mood is changing thankfully. I say thankfully because I live in the West and I don’t like to see cat and dog meat.

The South Korean government are clearly sensitive to this criticism. For animal advocates in the West, it is great to see their efforts come to fruition in a ban against dog meat in an Asian country. That’s why people like me post about cat and dog meat all the time. We want to in influence opinion. We want things to change. Our biggest target is China, which is a tough nut to crack.

Is eating cat and dog meat any different to eating chicken and pork?

Of course, it begs the question as to whether eating cats and dogs is any different to eating conventional livestock such as pigs and chickens. This is one of those perennial arguments which always resurfaces. But there is a difference between eating cats and dogs and chickens and pigs.

I will briefly touch on the difference. There is a social contract – an unwritten contract – between cat and dog companions and their owners. And the contract says that the owner will look after their dog or cat and in return the dog will help protect the human and provide the human with companionship. The contract between these two parties does not include one party to the ‘contract’ killing the other and eating it! That’s the first point.

The second point is that in the West the killing of livestock is regulated by extensive legislation in order to make sure that the animals are killed humanely. In Asia cats and dogs are brutally killed before being consumed. In China there are no regulations regarding the killing of cats and dogs and other animals. In South Korea I’m sure there are regulations on the slaughter of animals but I would doubt that they are properly enforced and I am sure there is a lot of cat and dog cruelty taking place in the backstreet cat and dog meat markets in South Korea and other Asian countries. That’s the problem. The business is plain cruel.

South Korea pressured into change

And the government in South Korea know the problem because the policy chief of the ruling People Power Party said that it is time “to put an end to social conflicts and controversies around dog meat consumption through the enactment of a special act to end it.”

The government is debating it. If passed the ban would take place before the end of 2023. It is expected that this new law will be passed and there will be a three-year grace period to phase out the businesses. The objective is to entirely ban dog meat in South Korea by 2027. The businesses will be compensated.

They have been objecting to the phasing out of their businesses. And it’s a big business in South Korea. Nearly 1 million dogs are killed for human consumption in that country annually.

A poll conducted in 2020 found that 84% of South Koreans have never eaten dog meat. And 59% of South Koreans support a ban. The Independent reports that there are over 1000 dog breeding farms in South Korea. There are 34 slaughterhouses and 219 distribution companies. Around 1500 restaurants serve dog meat.

Cultural attitudes

The problem is a deep-rooted cultural attitude towards eating dog meat which is difficult to shift and one has to be critical sensitively because this is a cultural issue but there’s far too much dog and cat cruelty in Asia. It’s horrendous actually. It’s time to stop eating these companion animals. The slaughter and eating of companion animals simply isn’t part of the contract between us and them.

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Big bad China is scared of PUPPIES! A dysfunctional relationship with dogs.

“Owner has to muzzle a PUPPY or the pup would be taken and beaten to death by Chinese police”. This is the claim of an animal advocate on Twitter X: Phaedra. She does not tell us why the police would kill the dog or puppy. I can only guess: the Chinese devalue dogs hugely. There is some horrible cruelty against dogs for the Yulin Dog Meat market. And during Covid there was some gross cruelty against dogs – bludgeoned to death. Horrible again. I am guessing that there is a fear of getting Covid from dogs. That’s all I can think of at this time, Any ideas? Please comment.

But the pictures indicate a country deeply confused about dog ownership. A country with a very dysfunctional relationship with dogs. However, there must be many Chinese who love dogs and treat them beautifully. We cannot generalise. That would be falling into a trap. Although the comments on Twitter X accompanying these photos are very critical of China. Perhaps rightly so. President Xi Jinping supports the dog meat and dog fur markets in China. Both are obscene and barbaric. Humans reduced to a kind of behaviour which might have been acceptable in the Middle Ages but not in the 21st century. But as I have mentioned before, there are no animal welfare laws in China, the world’s second largest economy after America. Can you believe it. How backward is that? Back to the Dark Ages.

China is the oldest and worst culture on Earth.

Willy James commenting on Twitter X

It seems that China is stuck in the past. According to Ai Weiwei, the Chinese contemporary artist living in exile, the Chinese view dogs as entirely functional. There appears to be no recognition of sentience. But I should not generalise. Chinese society must be very difficult for animal lovers. They would seem to be out of step with the authorities.

I’ve done some research since writing the above. There does seem to be an underlying hostility towards dogs in China. For instance, a county in China’s Yunnan province banned residents from walking their dogs in public from November 20, 2020. I’m not sure if that law was overruled but at the time if a person was caught walking a dog three times in a row, the animal was confiscated.

And in 2018 the city of Hangzhou dog walking during daytime in public places was/is banned. They also prohibit larger breeds.

China does not ban the import of any dog breeds but there are restrictions in Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing. Owners should be aware of them.

Underpinning this attitude towards dogs is the dog meat trade in China and Vietnam. I won’t go into details but you won’t get a more horrendous abuse or cruelty against dogs or any other animal for that matter than you get against dogs within the Chinese dog meat trade. It is simply utterly barbaric and beyond belief. This must go to the attitude of a substantial percentage of Chinese towards dogs.

I’ve also learned that pets cannot travel by train in China as it is strictly prohibited. Pets travelling by car require a health certificate and pets travelling by air are not allowed in the cabin. Hostile or what?!

Set against this background, the middle classes of China are warming to the idea of adopting a companion dog. There has been a shift in attitudes towards animals and animal welfare among a significant section of society in China resulting in increased ownership. It’s remarkable when you think about it because there appears to be too pressures pushing in different directions.

Further research indicates that in Beijing there are some pretty heavy canine restrictions. The city bans residents in ine downtown districts from raising more than one pet dog. There are rules against big dogs and those with aggressive temperaments. In these nine downtown districts residents can only own one small toy dog or a non-sporting dog.

Those who violate these regulations face a fine of the equivalent of about US$633 (5000 yuan). Beijing regulations make it illegal to keep dogs taller than 35 cm which is 1.1 ft. This means that golden retrievers are outlawed and can be seized and killed by the authorities.

The above information has not been verified by me but comes from various websites while researching the topic. Regulations and laws change frequently and therefore it’s advisable to check. At the moment all I can do is report what I read on the Internet. At the least, however, the information here does give you a pointer as to the kind of regulations that might exist in China.

RELATED: Hamas massacres entire family leaving nervous puppy behind who was rescued (video).

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Cambodia’s children are being discouraged to regard dogs as meat

The dog and cat meat trade in Cambodia is thriving as it is in China and other Far Eastern countries. There is, however, a slight awakening towards the immorality, as I would describe it, of this business. There are green shoots as they say of a different relationship between these companion animals and the citizens of Cambodia.

And the evidence for this comes from a Daily Express report today, online, about a UK animal charity called NoteToDogMeat which is working with some schools in Cambodia, specifically in the Kandal province, to teach the children that companion animals are not meant to be the provider of meat for human consumption but to be companions. Note: I would desperately like the cat to be brought into these classroom sessions. Perhaps they are. But the cat is equally vulnerable to this form of animal cruelty in Asia.

NoToDogMeat classroom session to try and change the attitude of Cambodians who often regard companion dogs as meat to be consumed after a cruel death
NoToDogMeat classroom session to try and change the attitude of Cambodians who often regard companion dogs as meat to be consumed after a cruel death. Image: NoToDogMeat.

To help to get the message across, schoolchildren are being shown dogs’ heads as you can see in the photograph in a basket to try and shock them, I guess, into thinking about dogs in a different light. It is very gruesome. I’m not sure that this is the right way to go about it but if anything can be done to reduce the terrible cruelty perpetrated on domestic, stray and feral dogs and cats in Cambodia to supply the cat and dog meat market then I’m all in favour of it.

The dog’s head that we see in the picture was purchased from a local butcher at a cost of $2.50 (£2 and UK money). And after the kids have discussed the dog’s head and discussed the sentience of animals as part of their classroom training, the head is then buried as an act of kindness to reinforce the obligation to be kind to dogs.

A great issue in Cambodia and other East Asian countries is that the older generation have been brought up on eating cat and dog meat and of course they pass this tradition down to the children. This UK charity is trying to break that tradition in an act of enlightenment.

Tet Lin, 35, who is one of the educators working for NoToDogMeat said that it is extremely difficult to change the minds of the old generation because they had nothing to eat to survive the Pol Pot regime. That’s a hint at the dire consequences of the Pol Pot regime in times gone past. But you wonder whether that is the only reason. It isn’t.

There is a general culture in eastern Asia to eat cats and dogs. You haven’t got to go far to see evidence of this on the Internet. I don’t think we can blame Pol Pot for this cultural habit. This is more about a deeply embedded culture in Asia about their relationship with animals in general. To most Western eyes it looks horribly cruel. It is an entirely different to the that in northern Europe or America.

This charity says that there is an urgent need to address the horrifying suffering on the streets of Cambodia where they round up and kill these poor animals; so brutally treated. It is an horrific story to Westerners and so anything to stop it is highly welcome to people like me.

The charity holds United Nation’s Special Consultative status. They want animal welfare laws to be strictly enforced, which implies that there are probably animal welfare laws in place already to protect these animals but law enforcement simply does not act when there are violations of the law.

In Cambodia, the province of Siem Recap has declared a commercial ban on dog meat. And in the capital Phnom Penh, apparently new rules have been recently enacted (a government statute) to restrict the trade.

The NoteToDogMeat charity commenced in 2009. A London lawyer, Julia de Cadenet saw the horrors of the dog and cat meat trade in Cambodia and started it. The charity works in China, Cambodia and the Philippines, hosting educational programs. They are also involved in rescuing animals from trucks being driven to slaughter houses and indeed from slaughterhouses themselves.

Julia, said that the children are the future in this fight against this cruelty and so they are thinking long-term in tackling it. She wants to change the hearts and minds of the children who hopefully will spread the message to others. That way when attitudes change there won’t be a need to enforce a ban because the citizens of Cambodia will not do it any more as is the case in developed countries in Europe for example.

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