WASHINGTON — House lawmakers agreed by voice vote today to ban killing and eating cats and dogs and to urge other countries to stop the practice.
First, lawmakers passed by voice vote the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act, sponsored by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.). The bill says that no person may knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption, or knowingly ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell, or donate a dog or cat to be slaughtered for human consumption or a dog or cat part to be eaten.
An exception was carved out, though, for Native Americans from a defined tribe killing a dog or cat “for the purpose of a religious ceremony.”
The fine for a violation is $5,000, and states are free to make the law even more stringent; six states currently have laws prohibiting slaughtering and eating cats and dogs. Buchanan’s office noted that a restaurant in Philadelphia was shut down several years ago after it was discovered that cats chained in the basement were being killed by a worker to serve in meals.
“Dogs and cats provide love and companionship to millions of people and should not be slaughtered and sold as food,” said Buchanan, co-chairman of the Animal Protection Caucus.
The second resolution, from Hastings and Buchanan, urges “China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India, and all nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against the trade.”
The Humane Society International, Animals Asia Foundation, and others estimate that 30,000,000 dogs
and 10,000,000 cats die annually across Asia for the trade in dog and cat meat, the resolution notes, adding that “due to a traditional belief that high adrenaline levels produce tender meat and increase supposed health benefits, dogs killed for their meat may be first intentionally subjected to extreme fear and suffering through hanging or bludgeoning.”
Chinese activists have reported stolen pets are sometimes used in the dog meat market in China, the resolution states, and “many dogs and cats die during transport to slaughterhouses, after days or weeks crammed into small cages on the back of vehicles without food or water, and others suffer from illness or injury during such transport.”
The text of the bill “affirms the commitment of the United States to the protection of animals and to advancing the progress of animal protection around the world.”
“Passage of this resolution was a culmination of years of hard work and dedication,” Hastings said. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the thousands of activists across the country and around the globe for their tireless efforts. So many invested their own time and resources into getting this measure to the floor for a vote. They have never wavered in their commitment in the fight against the global dog and cat meat trade.”
Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International, said in a statement lauding passage of the bills that “we have to make it clear that in the United States too, where the trade exists, albeit on a much smaller scale, eating companion animals is not okay.”
“Ending the consumption of dogs and cats and shuttering thousands of dog meat farms is a top priority for HSI,” Block said. “Passage of the bill represents an important expression of unity with Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore, which outlawed the dog meat trade, and Hong Kong and Taiwan, which banned the cat meat trade. It also helps serve as an example for other countries that could take action to end trade within their borders, including China, South Korea, Vietnam, India and Indonesia.”