Lawmakers look to ban eating of cats and dogs

Lawmakers look to ban eating of cats and dogs
© Getty Images

Lawmakers are making a new push to pass legislation that would ban the eating of dog and cat meat in the U.S.

The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2017 from Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to establish legal standards against selling those meats, currently allowed in 44 states.

The bill was first introduced in March.

“We are very happy to have the support of so many activists who have taken up this issue with their own members of Congress,” Hastings told The Hill Thursday. The bill has 100 co-sponsors and was referred to a House Agriculture subcommittee.

ADVERTISEMENT
The issue is gaining new attention ahead of the annual Yulin festival in China, where thousands of dogs and cats are publicly killed and skinned, and their meat marketed for human consumption.

The festival has sparked international condemnation and animal rights activists are hoping the publicity will give new momentum to the bill in Congress.

“I think that some people initially considered the idea of killing dogs for meat far-fetched,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told The Hill. “But the very real butchering of dogs in Yulin reminds people that it is a very serious and disturbing issue.”

While dog meat consumption in the U.S. is limited, most states still allow dogs to be raised and sold for meat. Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York and Virginia have banned such practices.

“It’s an enormously popular bipartisan legislation and I can’t think of any reason why any sensible member of Congress would not stand for it,” Pacelle said the bill, which the Humane Society teamed up with lawmakers to propose.

“Dogs and cats provide companionship to millions of Americans and should not be slaughtered and sold as food,” Buchanan added in a statement.

Pacelle said the U.S. could play an influential role in stopping the dog and cat meat trade.

“We live in a global economy and we live in a very transient society,” he said. “We need to be morally consistent and ask other countries to act in a way that is consistent with our own policies.”

The bill's supporters are working to put the spotlight on the Yulin festival and draw attention to the issue.

Earlier this year, Hastings introduced a resolution condemning the festival, which now has 166 co-sponsors from both parties.

“One group, which calls themselves the ‘Citizen Lobbyists for H.Res.30’ has more than 6,300 members that, on their own initiative, have helped to recruit cosponsors for the resolution,” Hastings said.

For now, supporters of the bill to ban dog and cat meat in the U.S. believe they are close to a breakthrough.

“I’m hopeful the House will pass it in the next month,” said Pacelle.