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House Dem Hosts Hill Briefing Calling for End to Dog-Meat Trade

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a debate with Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., at the University of Central Florida, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

WASHINGTON — The top House Democrat on the U.S. Helsinki Commission held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill this week condemning the “horrific” dog-meat trade and bringing attention to his resolution slamming a Chinese dog meat festival.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) introduced in May the bill condemning the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, a 10-day event that took place in June, and urging China to end the dog meat trade.

“The Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China is just one of many where dogs are inhumanely slaughtered for human consumption,” Hastings said at the Wednesday briefing. “That the animals are purposefully made to suffer before their brutal deaths, often through being skinned, boiled, or burned alive, makes the festival in Yulin particularly detesting.”

Hastings’ resolution notes that “10,000 dogs are captured and slaughtered each year for the Dog Meat Festival, and more than 10,000,000 dogs are killed in China each year for the dog meat trade.”

“Many of these dogs are stolen pets, still wearing collars when they reach the slaughterhouses,” the bill states. “Many dogs die during transport to the slaughterhouses after days or weeks without food or water, and others suffer illness and injury during transport, such as broken bones. Dogs who reach the slaughterhouses are typically beaten to death with shocking brutality, without any regard for their welfare. These dogs also suffer mentally from watching other dogs being killed, then disemboweled and blow-torched in front of them.”

The resolution adds that children living in the areas where dogs are slaughtered may “suffer psychological trauma and desensitization” from viewing the carnage, and festival patrons are exposed to diseases such as rabies and cholera from consuming the pets.

The Yulin city government, the text notes, withdrew as a sponsor of the Dog Meat Festival but “has taken no meaningful action to enforce China’s existing laws and regulations on animal disease control, food safety, trans-provincial dog transport, or youth protection, all of which are breached by the dog meat trade.”

The House resolution condemns the festival as “a spectacle of extreme animal cruelty” and “a commercial activity claimed by proponents to be in the name of tradition, but is not actually grounded in Chinese history.”

In part, the bill “urges the Government of China and the Yulin authorities to impose a ban on the killing and eating of dogs as part of Yulin’s festival” and “affirms the commitment of the United States to the protection of animals and to the progress of animal protection around the world.”

Of the bill’s co-sponsors, 85 are Democrats and 28 Republican.

Hastings stressed that “our fight is not one culture against another, nor is it one government against another; rather, it is one for compassion and kindness as we demand that these brutal practices be stopped immediately.”

Dr. Peter Li, China Policy Advisor at Humane Society International, participated in the briefing and said opposition to the festival is not “launching a war of culture on China.”

“We are joining the Chinese people in condemning an industry and a ‘festival’ that run counter to China’s progress. I believe China is materially and philosophically ready to legislate animal protection laws and to outlaw the dog meat trade,” Li said. “…The dog meat industry is so insignificant. Its outlaw won’t adversely impact the Chinese economy or the life of the Chinese people.”

“The Yulin Dog Meat Festival has done irreparable damage to China’s reputation. It is an event that is patently offensive to the Chinese people. It does not belong in the 21st century.”