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May 28, 2017

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Taiwan helps Korean animal rights groups

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Korean animal rights groups appealed to their Taiwan counterparts and Taiwan lawmakers yesterday to help stop the South Korean government from amending the law to classify dogs as livestock for consumption.

Representatives of several groups, including the Korean Association for Animal Protection (KAAP) and Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), made their case at a news conference in Taipei.

CARE representative Park So-yeon noted that the South Korean government had passed a law banning the sale of dog meat and strictly enforced it ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics to improve the country's image. However, shortly after the games ended, the government relaxed enforcement, and dog meat restaurants were soon back in business, he said.

Nowadays, because the government is not enforcing its animal welfare laws, many Koreans assume it is legal to raise dogs for the cooking pot, to slaughter them and sell the meat, he said.

Park said that about 2 million dogs are consumed in South Korea each year.

On March 24, the Seoul municipal government said it planned to propose to the central government that the law be amended to classify dogs as livestock in order to set food safety standards for South Korean lovers of dog meat.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Hsing-nan, who played an instrumental role in the passage of legislation to outlaw the killing of dogs for food and the sale of dog meat in Taiwan, said at the press conference that there is no need today for dog meat to be used as food.

Wang said that respect for life is a universal value and that the protection of animal rights is a sign of a civilized society. He added that because there are so many other sources of protein today, there is no need to eat dog meat, and questioned why the Seoul government wants to legalize such a practice.

Chu Tseng-hung, director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, supported Wang's statement, saying that long ago, many humans depended on animal meat for survival but that in this modern age, this is no longer the case as there are so many other alternatives.

He claimed that people today have become excessively reliant on meat, adding that the raising of livestock poses a threat to human health by providing a channel for the spread of many serious diseases.

KAAP representatives displayed several photos at the news conference to illustrate the terrible treatment of dogs in South Korea and the appalling conditions in which they are raised for their meat. Some of the photos showed dogs crammed into small metal cages with no room to move.

Park said that the environment in which the dogs are raised is very unsanitary, and that they are usually fed old food scraps, such as moldy bread.

Representatives of a Taiwan animal rights group brought several healthy and active dogs to the news conference to demonstrate the stark contrast to the abused animals shown in the KAAP's photos.

Soon after the Seoul government's announcement of its plan to classify dogs as livestock for consumption, Korean animal rights groups voiced their strong protest and urgently began soliciting assistance from other countries around Asia to convince the South Korean central government to reject the proposal.

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