For many, dog-eating is considered part of Korean and Chinese culture and heritage, but for others, it is a horrifyingly inhumane practice which needs to be outlawed. As this article from AnimalsAsia.org describes, dogs are crammed into packed cages, subjected to horrible living conditions, fed rotten food and dead puppies, and tortured to death by strangulation or electrocution for twenty minutes or longer. Knowing this, it is no wonder that many Westerners speak of dog-eating with disgust and disdain for those who practice it. But what interests me about dog-eating is not the strong reactions against it, but the double-standards people have regarding animal cruelty and abuse.
Almost everyone will willingly shell out two or three dollars when shown a picture of an injured kitty or a starving puppy. When Michael Vic’s cruelty toward pit bulls came to light, the entire nation reacted with utter disgust. The irony here is that people tend to think of animal cruelty as restricted to dogs and cats. No one ever stops to think that the conditions endured by meat dogs in Korea are the exact same (and in many cases worse) of pigs, chickens, and cattle. Although the same cruelty is being practiced upon these animals (including the cramped conditions, the feeding of dead animals to living ones, and the practice of torture) no one bats an eye. In fact, people fight for the continuation of these practices, often booing vegetarians, animal rights activists, and those who oppose factory farming as hippies and idealists who value the lives of animals over those of humans. While most people do not vocally claim all of these practices and procedures are necessary to produce quality meat in an efficient and safe manner, they silently agree that abuse and torture are perfectly acceptable as long as they are not practiced upon dogs and cats. Animals used for meat may be mishandled and abused in any way that makes meat production more efficient. Furthermore, no one is bothered if someone shoots birds and squirrels in their yard for sport. No one is bothered if someone’s kid plays with his pet rabbit or turtle as though it were a remote control car. No one is bothered if fish in aquariums are left to die of fungus and fin rot due to lazy owners. No one finds it at all appalling when kids pull the wings off of flies or burn ants for no reason.
The double-standards are appalling. People scoff when shown a picture of crowded factory-farm conditions, yet they weep when they read descriptions of dog-farming in Korea. We are socialized to believe that “higher” animals like cats and dogs have more rights and deserve better treatment than animals raised for food. The irony is that the slice of bacon on our breakfast plates comes from an animal almost twice as smart as our terriers, or that the chicken strips we eat from lunch come from an animal that has as many emotions and personality quirks as our Siamese cat, or that the steak we have for dinner comes from a creature as loyal and loving as our Laborador. We need to realize that the same exact torture methods practiced upon dogs in Asia go on every day here in America, and that we contribute to the continuation of this process with every slice of bacon, every hamburger, every chicken nugget, and every sushi roll we eat. We must realize that animal abuse is not limited to dogs and cats, but extends to include every living creature.