Video courtesy of NutritionFacts.org
How Butchering Dogs and Cats Transfers Rabies to Humans
Change for Animals, an international animal welfare group, reports:
During the slaughtering process, rabies can be passed to humans several ways: 1. Dogs butchered for meat are often highly stressed and are more likely to bite and scratch handlers, potentially passing on this fatal disease. 2. Rabies can spread through the contamination of unrecognised cuts or abrasions on skin as infected carcasses are handled. 3. Individuals slaughtering dogs can also transmit the virus to themselves if they touch their eyes or lips while having traces of the dog’s fluids on their hands.
In one slaughterhouse in Vietnam, 20% of the dogs tested positive for rabies. “Research highlights that the slaughtering of unvaccinated rabies reservoir species, such as dogs, in areas where the disease is prevalent poses a significant risk to human health.” Therefore, in “recognition of the risk the slaughtering of dogs poses, workers in slaughterhouses in the area are vaccinated against the disease as part of the national programme for rabies control and prevention.”
How Dogs Contract Rabies
Dogs killed for meat come from a few different sources. One is stray or feral dogs nabbed on the street. Another is stolen pets. A third is dog farms.
“Large-scale dog farms are common in South Korea and China, with some housing thousands of dogs. These are mostly unregulated and there are no or few enforced recommendations for dog farm management, such as measures for disease control, provision of suitable animal feed, disposal of waste etc…[B]ecause of the stressful and cramped farming conditions, dogs frequently fight.” It is no surprise that rabies spreads from one dog to another in these environments.
Transporting dogs to slaughter creates another opportunity for rabies to spread among animals, as well as to humans. The founder and CEO of the Animals Asia Foundation, a Hong Kong-based animal advocacy group, says that risk is worst where dogs “are caged transported and kept in the markets en masse. Many are wounded as a result of inappropriate handling and the abuse they receive at the hands of the traders, and the rabies virus can easily spread through bites or scratches or even from saliva entering open wounds.”
Beliefs that Dog Meat is Medicinal
Despite the risks many people continue to eat dog meat because they believe it “enhances health and longevity.” People in cold climates, like some Chinese, believe it increases body heat; those in warm climates, like South Koreans, consider it cooling. Dog penis is eaten as an aphrodisiac. The “penis and testes are believed to increase virility and cure impotence.” Dogs’ bones are believed to be anti-inflammatory, and some doctors prescribe dog meat to aid recovery from surgery. These convictions, though without scientific support, make it hard to persuade people not to eat dogs.
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