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Dog, Horse… It’s Good Food for Us

Dog, Horse… It’s Good Food for Us

In February of this year, a resident of Auckland, New Zealand killed his family dog and barbecued the body. Concerned neighbors informed the SPCA, who arrived at the man’s home to find the dog’s body roasting over an outdoor fire. 

The SPCA investigated the incident, but recently came to the conclusion that no crime was committed, because the murder was carried out ‘humanely’. According to the man’s story, the dog was killed swiftly and painlessly. In what proves to be a classic example of the absurdity of animal welfare laws, New Zealand considers this perfectly legal. 

Garth Halliday, of the Auckland SPCA, told reporters that the family had become ‘tired of the dog’, and decided he was becoming a pest, especially as he was riddled with fleas. Rather than treating the fleas and finding an appropriate home for the dog, they decided to simply kill and eat him, a practice that is commonly accepted in their native Tonga. 

According to the man’s wife, “Dog, horse, we eat it in Tonga. It’s good food for us.”

As someone whose life has been enriched greatly by my experience with dogs, it’s hard not to see this as an exceptionally gruesome act, and as somehow different to the barbaric and unnecessary slaughter that occurs on a massive scale every day so that people everywhere can enjoy the taste of flesh. Dogs, after all, are animals who are treated as family members in many loving homes throughout the world, and it’s hard not to fall victim to the speciesism that teaches us to see dogs as somehow entitled to a greater degree of protection than animals used by agriculture.  

If Paea Taufu worked in an animal factory, he could be killing animals all day long, and not only would it not be considered controversial, he would be paid for it, and regular people would buy the animals’ flesh to eat it themselves. The difference? Dog = Pet. Lamb = Food. But this incident offers us a remarkable opportunity to examine such cultural prejudices and see them as they really are: meaningless justifications for cruelty toward some that we would not tolerate toward others. 

To the vast majority of humanity, animals are judged edible and inedible according to irrelevant characteristics. Pigs, just like dogs, are intelligent, social, affectionate creatures, who love a tummy rub and will greet their people with wagging tails. Cows sorrowfully mourn the loss of their young, and can bellow for days after their babies are taken from them to be killed and eaten as veal. Turkeys can experience deep emotional connections with people, and chickens can be psychologically traumatized for life after being released from an egg production facility. All of these animals are shut out of our general circle of compassion or empathy, for no reason other than that they fulfill our desire for certain ‘foods’. 

Although I admit that my own cultural prejudices kick in when I hear about a dog being killed to be turned into meat for a family lunch, I can’t help but feel that there is a certain hypocrisy being displayed by the general reaction to this incident, as though there is some sort of significant difference between the value of the life of a dog and the value of the life of a pig, a cow, or a chicken, animals who are killed collectively by the billions every year. In the US alone, we kill 317 land animals every second of every day. That does not even include the billions of aquatic animals killed every year, and it equals almost 20,000 every minute, and over 1,000,000 every hour. 

I am not suggesting that people should not be horrified by this story, nor am I suggesting that there is anything defensible about killing a family member, or any animal, for any reason, in any way. What I am suggesting is that those who are horrified by this story ought to think carefully about why it is horrifying, and what our reaction to this tells us about animal use in general. The only reason we are not equally moved by the brutal murder of other animals is simply because we choose to ignore it. The reason we ignore it is because we benefit from it, and are therefore complicit in it. 

We disregard our ethical responsibility toward these animals because it is convenient, but in so doing, we unwittingly stunt our ethical development, and thereby inhibit the social progression of humanity. The evolution of civilization is a continuous path toward learning the difference between right and wrong, between justice and injustice. To cling so stubbornly to the practice of enslaving animals for food and other pleasures, is to deny the need for the evolution of society, as though our widespread problems with violence and brutality do not have some deeper cause that needs to be addressed.

To be deeply saddened by the murder of a family dog is a sane reaction to a horrific occurrence. The hypocrisy begins when we shut off that sadness in reaction to the murder of other animals simply because our culture has taught us that ‘cow, pig, chicken, sheep, fish… it’s good food for us’.

 

 

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347 comments

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5:49PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

THIS IS THE REASON I HAVE BECOME A VEGETARIAN!!!

12:24PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

This is why I much prefer animals, all animals over what we call HUMANS just look at how we treat one another.

9:50AM PST on Feb 12, 2011

In our society we have domesticated certain animals. Sad to say, other cultures look at our pets as food. I know folks it's an awful fact. I have a very hard time wrestling with this idea. China and Korea eat dogs and cats but treat them as garbage before they do. I despise cultures that look at animals as dispensable trash, to use or exploit. They have no compassion or respect for animals and don't understand people that do. They figure the animal is food so why have any regard for their feelings. That's what makes me livid. You don't care that the animal has a consciousness. It is a living thinking thing. They don't care if it suffers before it is killed. Animals are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. I can't stand the thought of any animal suffering, period. How do I live with this on an everyday basis?

7:11AM PST on Feb 12, 2011

NO, DOGS NOR HORSES SHOULD BE A SOURCE OF FOOD! WHAT AN UGLY THOUGHT!!!!! THESE ARE PETS AND IF YOU TRULY OPEN YOUR HEART TO THEM THEY ARE YOU BEST FRIEND. EAT A CARROT FOR GOD SAKE!

4:43AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

"P.S.I don’t hear any outrage over cruelty to cows when they are led to the abattoir for slaughter."

Yes, you do. Many of us here continously point out that it matter naught which animal is made to suffer in captivity and be put to death, slavery is slavery and it is inhumane regardless of which species suffers and dies.

And yes, this from a South African. Imagine that.

12:02AM PDT on Nov 7, 2010

This is part 2. Please read Diane J's comment below first.

Dear Humans (continued.....)

Cruelty is not what you eat, but how it reaches your plate. It’s not WHAT you kill but HOW you kill it. If you must kill, do it as humanely as possible. If only farm animals had a union!

Yours, not so faithfully,
Babe.

P.S.I don’t hear any outrage over cruelty to cows when they are led to the abattoir for slaughter. They are fully aware and petrified by the smell of blood and fear in the air. They instinctively know that they have been brought to a place of death. Suddenly human ‘friends’ turn upon them without concern for their feelings or their struggle to escape. Does this remind you of Hitler’s Auschwitz? Is it any different? I know of two farmers who love their pigs so much they swap them before slaughter because they cannot bring themselves to kill and eat a creature that came when it was called, was affectionate and loved a tickle and let people play with it’s newborn babies. Wait a minute...isn’t that what pets do?

11:20PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

Dear humans,

If it is it not cruel to kill an animal (pig) for food why does it suddenly become cruel when the animal is a pet? Where did the preconceived notion (prejudice) about ‘farm animals are food and pets are family’ come from in the first place? After all, both are considered ‘domesticated’. What differentiates a piglet from a puppy?

~ The truth is ugly: Your 'pets' are fluffy and look cute.
~ Farm animals are ‘bred for it’? It’s just bad luck we were born pigs. Ask a S. African how it felt to be born into apartheid!
~ They lack intelligence? Watch ‘the making of the movie Babe’: piglets learn far quicker than puppies!
~ The flavour? Cave Man decided which meat tastes better and passed this down through the generations. If he had chosen to eat dog meat, you would now be saying that it’s okay, cause it would be ‘normal’. You wouldn’t be outraged.

So you can't eat 'pets' because they 1. are too cute 2. weren’t born into it. 3. are presumed to be more intelligent. 4. taste lousy/easier to catch. How utterly prejudiced and absurd humans are! The respect you have for a creature should be maintained regardless of the label you chose to give it. If one animal’s meat is acceptable, all meat is acceptable. Cruelty is not what you eat, but how it reaches your plate. It’s not WHAT you kill but HOW you kill it. If you must kill, do it as humanely as possible. If only farm animals had a u

7:13AM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

Very well said

11:51AM PDT on Oct 17, 2009

To bad people are wild! No they are stinking third world scum who should have been exterminated long before they could start eating dogs or horses. These low life people are on the BOTTOM of the evolution ladder and as long as New Zealand and other places have lax laws against cruelty this will continue. The New Zealand lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves. I am willing to bet no matter how much negative publicity they get they will do nothing. Like these stinking immigrants are important to their country. To bad the dog didn't find a way to kill some of them and improve the planet~!

12:40PM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Lloyd H.

Excellent point! Because of your enlightening (and not at all smug and superior post), I have decided to change my ways. I'm dismounting from my high horse and exercising my "right to call it dinner".

So I'm thinking, we can barbecue up my 2 year old pug for an appetizer, definitely some insects for dessert...and perhaps my 9 month old nephew as the entree. He's a little chunky, so would probably make a delicious meal, and he's pretty helpless too..don't have to worry about him running anyway or anything. And of course, we'll do it all "humanely", so I don't really see a problem.

I mean, I know you made that point about "the definition of sociopath - having no concern for the rights or well being of others.", but that doesn't apply when we're discussing dinner, right? I mean, I can't possible worry about the rights or well-being of my dog, or my nephew....because I'm HUNGRY!

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