SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s parliament is expected to vote on Tuesday to gradually ban the consumption and sale of dog meat, a move that would end the controversial centuries-old practice, amid growing support for animal welfare in the country.
Eating dog meat was once considered a way to improve endurance during the humid Korean summer. But it has become rare – now consumed mainly by some elderly people – as more Koreans view dogs as pets and criticism of the way dogs are slaughtered grows.
Activists say most dogs are electrocuted or hanged when slaughtered for their meat, although breeders and traders say progress has been made to make slaughter more humane.
Support for the ban grew under President Yoon Suk Yeol, an animal lover who adopted many stray dogs and cats along with first lady Kim Keon Hee, also a vocal critic of dog meat consumption.
Proposed by the ruling party, the bill won approval Monday from Parliament’s bipartisan agriculture committee for a vote in the 300-member unicameral assembly.
If passed, the legislation would come into effect after a three-year grace period. Breaking the law would be punishable by up to three years in prison or a 30 million won ($22,900) fine.
“The bill would end the breeding and slaughter of dogs for human consumption,” said Borami Seo of Humane Society International Korea, an animal welfare group. “We have reached a tipping point to save millions of dogs from this cruel industry.”
In a survey released Monday by Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education, a Seoul-based think tank, more than 94 percent of respondents said they had not eaten dog meat in the past year and about 93% said they would not do so within the year. the future.
Previous efforts to ban dog meat failed in the face of industry protests, and the bill aims to provide compensation so companies can get out of the trade.
In November, a group of about 200 food dog breeders held a rally near the president’s office, demanding the bill be dropped.
The Department of Agriculture estimated that as of April 2022, some 1,100 farms were raising 570,000 dogs to be served in about 1,600 restaurants.
The Korean Edible Dog Association, a coalition of breeders and sellers, said the ban would affect 3,500 farms raising 1.5 million dogs as well as 3,000 restaurants.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Ed Davies and Edwina Gibbs)
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