A court in South Korea has ruled the killing of dogs for meat illegal.
Animal rights activists have said the landmark decision could pave the way to outlawing eating canines altogether.
Animal rights group, Care, filed complaints last year against a dog farm operator in Bucheon, reports the Daily Mail. The group accused the farm of ‘killing animals without proper reasons’ as well as violating building and hygiene regulations.
The farmer was convicted by the Bucheon City court, which ruled meat consumption was not a legal reason for killing dogs, and fined the man three million won (£2,100). He did not appeal the ruling.
The practice of eating dog meat, however, is on the decline in South Korea, as younger generations view it as taboo.
Kim Kyung-eun, a lawyer for Care, welcomed the ruling:
It is very significant in that it is the first court decision that killing dogs for dog meat is illegal itself.
She added the new precedent ‘paved the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely’.
Leader of Care, Park So-youn, said the group are tracking down dog farms and slaughter houses across the country with a view to reporting them to judicial authorities.
Over the past decades, public discourse over dog meat consumption has shifted towards banning it.
The dog meat industry will take greater heat because of the court ruling.
This week, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party introduced a bill in Parliament that would effectively ban killing dogs for meat.
The new law would limit the slaughter of animals for food to species that are classed as livestock, which does not include canines.
Activists rallied outside the city’s National Assembly, urging the government to pass the measure.
However, some South Koreans object to the decision. A recent survey found 70 per cent of South Koreans do not eat dogs, but only around 40 per cent believe the practice should be banned.
Speaking on YTN television, Cho Hwan-ro, a representative from an association of dog farms, said:
This is outrageous. We can’t accept the ruling that killing of dogs for dog meat consumption amounts to killing animals on a whim.
He added there are around 17,000 dog farms across the country, and called the government to legalise dog meat consumption and license dog slaughter houses.
Cho argued that ‘dogs for eating and dogs for pets must be separated’, saying they are different breeds, fed differently and raised for different purposes.
Cows, pigs, chickens and ducks are all raised to be consumed, why not dogs?
South Korea is not the only country facing the problem, as dog meat is widely consumed throughout parts of Asia. It’s estimated in China alone, 10 million dogs and 4 million cats, are slaughtered for the dog meat trade each year.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.