Most Americans associate eating dogs or cats with traditions in far-away countries, but according to Philly.com, “there have been more than a few cases in Pennsylvania in which someone was found breeding or selling dogs for their meat — or even cooking a dog themselves.”
Authorities could not take action to stop it, because it is legal — or, at least it has been.
But a new law moving through the legislature right now would change that — a bill unanimously passed the House last week to ban killing dogs or cats for their meat.
Now moving on to the Senate for approval, this measure would also make it illegal to breed, process or sell dogs and cats for human consumption.
Under the proposed legislation, first-time offenders could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny) said he introduced the bill in October to combat what he called dog “slaughterhouses.”
The discovery of illegal slaughterhouses in basements, garages and the like is “infrequent but disturbing,” Maher wrote in his memo to fellow House lawmakers seeking cosponsors. “Perhaps more disturbing is the knowledge slaughtering or selling dogs and cats for human consumption is not illegal in Pennsylvania.”
Only about a half-dozen states, including New Jersey and New York, have laws specifically barring the butchering of dogs and cats.
George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA, which has investigated a half-dozen cases of dog-meat eating in the last 10 years, said the largest case he was involved in occurred a decade ago in Philadelphia. In that case, 150 Jindo dogs — widely bred in South Korea for meat and pelts — were seized from an individual who told humane officers the animals were bred as guard dogs and for meat.
Authorities shut down the kennel, which was operating with a state license, because of unsanitary conditions and lack of medical care, not because the person was raising dogs for meat, said Bengal.
“This bill should help deter the consumption of dogs and cats for food by making private consumption illegal. But we also hope it raises awareness in the community to get involved so there’s more visibility for enforcement.”
“Most of the general public assumes this is already illegal,” said Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “Generally, this is a country where the consumption of dogs and cats for meat is not accepted.”
A Senate spokesman said the bill had not yet been assigned a committee, so it will not likely be considered before the end of the year.