A South Korean court has ruled the killing of dogs for meat is illegal, in a landmark decision that animal rights activists yesterday said could pave the way to outlawing eating canines.
The meat has long been a part of South Korean cuisine, with about 1 million dogs believed to be eaten annually.
However, consumption has declined as South Koreans increasingly embrace the idea of dogs as man’s best friend rather than livestock, with the practice now something of a taboo among the younger generation.
Even so it remains a legal gray area. Despite no specific ban, authorities have invoked hygiene regulations or animal protection laws that ban cruel slaughter methods to crack down on dog farms and restaurants ahead of international events.
Animal rights group Care last year filed complaints against a dog farm operator in Bucheon, accusing him of “killing animals without proper reasons” and violating building and hygiene regulations, and prosecutors later charged him.
He was convicted by the Bucheon City court, which ruled that meat consumption was not a legal reason to kill dogs, and fined 3 million won (US$2,700). He waived his right to appeal.
Care lawyer Kim Kyung-eun welcomed the ruling, which was made in April, but with details only released this week.
“It is very significant in that it is the first court decision that killing dogs for dog meat is illegal itself,” Kim said, adding that the precedent “paved the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely.”
Care leader Park So-youn said her group was tracking down dog farms and slaughterhouses across the country with a view to filing similar complaints against them.
A Democratic Party lawmaker this week introduced a bill in parliament that would effectively ban killing dogs for meat.
The measure would limit the slaughter of animals for food to species classed as livestock, which does not include canines.
About 30 activists yesterday rallied outside the National Assembly, urging it to pass the measure.
However, some South Koreans object to what they describe as cultural double standards. Dog is usually eaten in the country as a summertime delicacy, with the greasy red meat believed to increase energy.
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