People in Asia Fight Back Against Dog Meat and Other Animal Torture

Many countries in Asia don’t come off well in discussions about animal protection, though humans around the globe bear responsibility for our endless atrocities against animals. Still, Asian traditional medicines and dietary preferences get the blame for lots of horrors, including:

  • torturing moon bears for their bile;
  • killing off elephants for their tusks;
  • slashing rhino populations for their horns;
  • slaughtering sharks to eat their fins;
  • brutalizing dogs and cats for fur and meat;
  • endangering whales in violation of international law to eat them;
  • and hunting tigers to use their genitals in medications.

There is more, but I’m depressed enough already.

Here’s the good news: individuals in these countries are taking up the fight to protect animals.

The stereotype that several Asian countries, and China in particular, are the root of countless evils for animals makes the following fact surprising: there are more vegans and vegetarians in China than in the United States — 50 million versus 30 million. That growing meat-free population could help make a dent in statistics like the four million cats China’s residents eat each year.

The Chinese trend against meat-eating is particularly heartening because many of the veg folks are motivated by concern for animals and are taking action to implement and spread their values. In one recent example, Chinese animal rights activists launched a huge effort to put an end to an annual dog meat festival last month.

South Korea also has a home-grown animal protection movement. In 2010, activists raided a covert dog farm and rescued as many dogs as they could. Then they went back and persuaded the owner to relinquish the remaining dogs and raze the farm’s buildings.

Even people who are not risking arrest like the South Korean rescuers or changing their diets like the Chinese vegetarians often care about animal welfare more than international headlines might suggest. An insightful initiative against ivory in China was based on the realization that locals weren’t stubborn or indifferent to animals’ suffering; they were just lacking key information.

In Chinese, the phrase for ivory literally means “elephant tooth.” This gave consumers the impression that elephants dropped their tusks the way other species like humans and, notably, sharks, shed and replace their teeth. People assumed that ivory suppliers collected and sold discarded tusks while the elephants went on about their lives without injury.

So the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) launched a publicity campaign to raise awareness that the only way to get ivory is to kill elephants and remove the tusks from their corpses. IFAW achieved striking results: the number of people who said they definitely would not buy ivory doubled, and their primary reason was the slaughter of elephants.

Activists in Hong Kong are reducing local demand for shark fin soup. “Several hotels offer discounts, cheaper room rates and other incentives for couples that choose not to serve shark fin at their wedding celebrations,” and “campaigners persuaded Citibank Hong Kong to withdraw a promotion offering new credit card holders discount on a shark fin dinner.”

There is no denying that Asian consumers are responsible for the misery, death and possibly even the endangered status of countless animals — or that all of us, in every country, make choices and assumptions that cause just as much horror. But the image some animal advocates may have of Asia as a hidebound monolith on animal issues is wrong. Determination is growing among many Asian residents to save animals by changing their countries’ habits and shedding light on the grisly consequences if they don’t.

Related Stories:

Some Chinese Losing Their Taste for Shark Fin Soup

Heroic Rescue at Korean Dog Meat Farm

Dog Meat Festival Must End, Say Activists in China

Are Rhinos Safe from Poachers When They Wear Pink?

A Side of Rabies With Your Dog Meat in China

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Waheeda S.
Waheeda S5 years ago

Increasing awareness and dissemination of information are great tools to protect the animals matter where on earth.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Haleigh O.
Haleigh O5 years ago

After hearing the countless saddening stories of unfortunate animals in Asia, this is a wave of relief.

sharon stringer
sharon stringer5 years ago

Perhaps education of this and the next generation of Asian children that live in provinces and so on in China,maybe teaching and some sort of animal welfare program in the schools will in time phase out the disgusting practices of killing and brutalising animals.These are all outdated practices that should be left in the past,whether tradition or not!!! eating cats ,dogs,and all variety of endangered and exotic wildlife is just not acceptable.These practices should be outlawed!!

jane o.
jane Oldfield5 years ago

I'm thankful there are some in the Far East who care but I tend to think it is too little too late. Eg Already over 500 rhinos killed in South Africa this year and the rate of slaughter escalates. The rhino has about 5 to 6 years left if this rate continues. There should have been soul-searching in countries in China and Vietnam about 10 years ago and when it's gone it will be entirely because of a ludicrous and primitive belief in rhino horn having some medicinal value.

Frederik D.
Frederik D5 years ago

Let's not forget all the animals murdered for meat consumption here in the Western world.

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

Take action and support asian activists by writing a mail to korean embassies - you can take sample text mailadresses here:

Sample Protest

Stop The Torture And Consumption
Of Dogs And Cats In South Korea

Dear Sirs,

I am extremely upset about the torture and consumption of companion animals in South Korea.
Even though Korea has established an Animal Protection Law for companion animals, dogs are still beaten, hung, electrocuted, and treated brutally by farmers and slaughters. Also, dogs and cats are still being beaten and boiled alive for so-called elixirs, which do not have medical properties except in the minds of ignorant and gullible customers.
These practices have no place in the modern world. Other Asian countries have banned the eating of dog meat and the cruel industry that goes with it, such as Taiwan and the Philippines. Why does Korea persist in lagging behind these countries and other civilized societies?
It’s the responsibility of the Korean government to once and for all end the cruel dog meat and cat medicine industries in Korea. It is time to dismiss the childish myths and propaganda surrounding these industries and their vile products. It is time to leave behind backward and unnecessary traditions.
And it is time for Korea to start taking animal welfare seriously and showing that it really does have a compassionate and ethical society. That means it is time for the Korean government to start better educating the public

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis5 years ago

Happy to learn this !!! Sharing on my FB wall.

Rachelle Sedger
Rachell Ledger5 years ago

Great news! I've thought for a long time that half the problem with Asian-based animal offenses is a lack of information and knowledge, and the fact that so many people had no idea that elephants are killed in the pursuit of ivory is just more evidence to support that theory. There needs to be more efforts like that made by the IFAW - if more people knew that traditional medicines don't work, then more people would stop using them. We need to educate people about this sort of thing if we want to make a difference. Good on all those people in this article who are making a concerted effort to make change.