By Jasmin Gray
A leading animal rights charity has questioned the effectiveness of a ban on dog meat in the UK, saying there is “absolutely zero evidence” it is eaten in Britain.
On Monday a group of MPs called for a ban on the practice, saying most people are “astounded” it is not already forbidden. While UK law states that you cannot buy or sell dog meat, it is still legal to humanely kill a dog you own and eat the meat.
Scottish MP Lisa Cameron, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on dog welfare, said she had been “inundated” with calls for a ban. “Some animal welfare charities have raised concerns that the lack of a ban is the rationale provided by those who would engage in this sick practice,” she said.
“The UK is a country of dog lovers and the public want the strongest possible legislation to prevent animal cruelty.”
But while animal protection organisation Humane Society International (HSI) – which campaigns around the world to end the consumption of dog meat – said making the practice illegal in the UK “can’t hurt”, it added any ban would be purely symbolic.
“There is no evidence to suggest that dog meat is being eaten in the UK,” said HSI’s director of international media, Wendy Higgins.
It estimated that around 30 million dogs are eaten across Asia each year, with China considered to be the biggest dog-eating country in the world.
Higgins said that between 10 and 20 million dogs are consumed in the country each year, most of which are stolen pets.
Higgins continued: “At the end of 2015, HSI did some investigations in areas across the UK where we have a high proportion of Chinese and South Korean citizens,” she said. “We found absolutely zero evidence of dog meat and we were asking for it openly over the counter and under the radar.
“Across the board, the response was: ‘Don’t be crazy, nobody eats dogs in this country.’ There is no evidence to suggest this is an issue.
“If the government really wanted to end the dog meat trade, there are more useful things that it could do than introduce a UK ban,” Higgins added, calling for a more “proactive” approach from politicians.
While the Indonesian government pledged on Monday to ban the cat and dog meat trade in the country, proposals for making consumption illegal in America is are currently being considered by US Congress.
A spokesperson for Theresa May said on Monday that the government would “look closely at the decision taken in the UK”.
“Britain is a nation of animal lovers and we continue to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world,” they said. “We wish to maintain that.”